Weather Nightmares Bring Tough Decisions

Between the Fencerows

Rain, hail and flooding aren't exactly ideal conditions for growing crops

Published on: July 2, 2013

Last week, the kids went to Vacation Bible School.  On Thursday, before we went in for the closing program and picnic, Rachael and I went for a walk.  We could see storm clouds in the distance, but it looked as though it would blow over.  We went in the church, and I could hear some rain.  It was nothing like we had earlier in the week, which caused all the holes (who everybody had replanted on Monday) to fill up again.  It also brought ditches back out of the banks. 

On the way home, something just didn't look right.  The corn and beans were tattered a bit.  I called dad, and asked if it hailed. "Did it hail!  Like I've never seen before," he said. "I couldn't even see the shop (100 feet away from the house). It lasted 15 to 20 minutes. Everything was white." 

Rain, hail and flooding arent exactly ideal conditions for growing crops
Rain, hail and flooding aren't exactly ideal conditions for growing crops

Sure enough his place was at the epicenter of the storm path, which was about 20 miles long and a mile or more wide.  Damage at my house was light, but less than a mile away, it was severe.  I would estimate some soybean fields (at R1 which had nearly canopied in the 20-inch rows) had 80% defoliation, and corn fields were damaged 50-70%, with 3-6 leaves left to open. 

Overall, about 30% of our acres were affected.

Decision time

Friday was a day of decisions.  After a two-hour drive surveying the damage, each of us made several phone calls soliciting advice.  The conservative opinion was to let it go and see what happens, the more aggressive view was to throw the book at it. 

I had already checked the schedule of our aerial applicator.  In the end, we concluded that a fungicide application would not last us late enough into grain fill.  We also decided there wasn't enough foliage left on the soybeans to efficiently absorb an application at this point. 

We opted to treat about half the corn acres at a cost of about $25 per acre. The application was done within 24 hours of the damage.  We selected a product containing some N, P, & K with a micro pack, as well as another product containing amino acids which are supposed to activate the corn's defenses. 

We left test strips in a two fields for comparisons.  We are skeptical of the amino acids, but willing to give them a try. 

The fields we treated are all irrigated fields. We are willing to add a fertigation/chemigation trip later in the season if conditions warrant a fungicide.  Scouts will be out this week and we will focus on untreated fields and decide if we need to take action. 

Hail like this isn't normal for us.  I'd be interested hear in the comments below what others have done in this scenario, and what the results were in the end.