Tricounty News

Crop prospects with hail damage



By Dan Martens,

U of M Extension

Hail caused crop damage Friday afternoon, June 25, in Stearns County. From what I had the chance to see on Sunday evening south and southwest of Cold Spring and to hear in phone conversations with farmers so far, the hail appears to have been along line from about three miles south and west of Cold Spring in Wakefield Township and east through parts of Maine Prairie, Fairhaven and Lynden Townships, and into Sherburne and Wright County in the Clear Lake areas. There might be some damage in the Rockville and St. Augusta area also.

Most of the corn and soybean crop is showing signs of new growth and yield loss may be in the range of 10 to 15 percent through most of the affected area. There are variations in the intensity of the hail and severity of the damage.

Some questions have been asked about spraying hail damaged corn with a fungicide to protect the crop from disease issues. U of M Extension state corn specialist Jeff Coulter and Extension plant pathology specialist Dean Malvick say that studies in Illinois and Minnesota have shown that there is a low chance of getting an economic return for spraying fungicides on hail damaged corn or soybeans. They recommend not spraying with fungicides because of hail damage at this time. If there are plant issues following hail, they are more likely to be caused by bacteria than fungus. Warmer, drier weather after a hail event reduces the chance of having disease issues. Fungicides sprayed now would only have an affect (if any) on leaf material exposed now and would not benefit all of the leaf material that emerges from this point forward.

A barley field south of Cold Spring along County Road 49 showed significant leaf loss, some broken heads, some kernels shelled from the seed head. The barley bordered between milk and dough stage. The field could be useful to combine yet. With a thinned-out canopy, there may be enough weed growth to make combining more challenging and result in straw with more weeds than preferred. Severely damaged small grain fields could be salvaged as a small grain forage silage crop put up as baleage or in a bag.

For alfalfa fields, if there is less than 50 percent of the terminal stems and growth buds showing damage, we suggest waiting for the remaining crop to grow and mature based on the expected harvest schedule. If the crop is broken down so badly that it would be hard to make a swath that could be picked up, it will probably start adequate new growth from the crown without cutting.

People are welcome with further questions at the Stearns County Extension office (320) 255-6169 if a local call to St. Cloud, or (800) 450-6171. You're welcome to call Dan Martens, Extension Educator for crop production, stationed at the Benton County Office, at (320) 968-5077 if a local call to Foley, or (800) 964-4929.