Pick Up the Pieces and Move On

Most fields, plots will be salvageable.

Published on: Jun 16, 2008

The trouble with writing about a weather vent is that not everyone is impacted in the same way. In fact hardly two people are impacted exactly the same. Some lost crops to flooding, others won't get all their corn planted, many replanted and some lost the crop again. Yet others suffered very little damage. Perhaps their biggest fall-out from the record-high rainfall totals across the central Corn Belt in June so far was not getting weeds sprayed on time in postemergenc programs, or not getting Sidedress N applied as timely as they had hoped.

The alternative, not writing about it, would be to ignore a catastrophe for many. If you're the one who saw bottom land wiped out once, maybe twice, by flooding, there will be nothing normal about this year.

At the Corn Illustrated Plots near Edinburgh, Ind., it's a mixed bag. The population study was planted on May 5 and emerged, despite cool, wet weather. One hybrid emerged quicker and more uniformly than the other, already underscoring the point that there are differences in hybrids. Then the flooding that hit Edinburgh with more than 15 inches of rain in a week literally washed the back half of part of those plots into the gravel pit next door. We're not talking a little soil washing out- we're talking gone!

This is next door to the field that saw 5 inches total from May 1 to Sept 15 a year ago, and suffered from major drought. Only one rain during that period last summer approached an inch. The big rain event last week was 10 inches, recorded on a professional rain gauge less than a mile away, on June 7. What a difference a year makes! Fortunately, enough of the plot was undamaged that it can still be harvested this fall. And the plot will still be replicated. It's just that the row length will be shorter than originally planned.

Rain delayed planting of the rest of the plots until May 30. However, except for one corner of the high yield plot, the farmer reports that the fields aren't greatly affected by ponding. Corn is up. Those plots should still yield valuable information, even though they were planted late and yields may not be as high as would be expected if the fields were planted in late April or early May.

The trick now will be hoping spoils dry up so that the fields can be sidedressed where necessary. One of the tests was designed to compare N applied before planting to siddress N. With the planting date so late, and urea applied just before planting on May 30, it looked like it might not be much of a comparison. Now that's all changed. Agronomists say it's possible that 15 to 25 pounds of the N applied as urea could have been lost due to saturated soils. Loss all depends on what form of N was applied and how long the application was made before the rain. N in the ammonium form is less likely to be lost. But if a sizable amount was in the nitrate form and not yet converted, then there could be noticeable losses.