Turn to Consultants and Field Guides to Assess Hail Damage

Hail damage on corn may not be as bad as it looks.

Published on: Jun 21, 2013

With warmer than normal and wetter than normal weather predicted for the rest of June, it's the perfect recipe for Indiana hailstorms. If your corn crop gets hit at this stage, deciding what to do can be tough.

Occasionally, it's totally wiped out if the growing point was above ground. More often, though, you have tattered leaves and bruised stalks, but a crop that is still standing.

The problem becomes assessing what population you think you have left that will produce an ear. Any chance of replanting, at least for corn, is usually not feasible by now. The tables indicate it is so late that even early season hybrids would have limited yield potential, and frost risk could become a concern. Whether or not you could go to soybeans depends upon what herbicides have already been applied on the field.

Big hit: This corn took a hit, but it was largely tattered leaves. Corn at this stage can still recover and post a reasonable yield.
Big hit: This corn took a hit, but it was largely tattered leaves. Corn at this stage can still recover and post a reasonable yield.

Bob Nielsen, Purdue University Extension corn specialist, typically suggests waiting four or five days to see how the plant will react. If you're actually thinking of replant to soybeans, that can be extra time lost. But since hailstorms are usually accompanied by heavy rain, the field may not be dried out for a few days anyway.

Many farmers who have fields with tattered leaves have found that yields usually turn out higher than they would have expected when they first saw the field. The emotional response to do something can be strong, but it might not be the right response to make for your pocketbook. Unless the damage is super-severe, corn can often recover, even if it's hit when ears are forming.

As always, be sure to contact your crop insurance agent if you have federal crop insurance before doing anything with the existing crop.