Hail Damaged Crops
In our area we are subject to hailstorms throughout the summer. Every year at least some crops will be damaged by hail during the growing season. When hail hits, how will this affect the corn or soybean plant? If it hits early in the summer, should we replant? How will crop yield be affected? These are all questions and concerns we have following a hailstorm. The key to predicting damage from early-season hail is the condition of the plants growing point. If the plant has been cut off below the growing point it will die and if the growing point is severely damaged by the hail, it will kill the plant or be severely stunted. In corn, at crop emergence the growing point is below the ground and immune from above ground hail damage. Soybeans, on the other hand, are very susceptible following emergence because the growing point is exposed and unprotected. After soybeans develop more in their vegetative growth, they have the capacity to recover from severe defoliation. A key point to remember is to be patient when assessing the recovery of a damaged crop field following a hailstorm. Recovery should begin within 3 to 10 days after damage occurs, depending on the temperature and soil moisture. If growing conditions are favorable recovery will be rapid. Cool temperatures and drought stress will restrict rate of recovery.
Corn and soybean fields that are damaged by hail in their vegetative stage have the potential to recover and produce a good crop. Hailstorms that hit during the reproductive stages of development do the most damage. If hail hits during tasseling and defoliates the leaves, grain yields can be reduced to nothing. If soybeans are hit during pod fill, yields will also be severely reduced. Hail that damages crops later in the season also leaves the crops susceptible to disease and insect damage. Donít making hasty decisions following late season hail; you may be able to salvage some of the crop. For more information on hail damaged crops, contact your local Extension office.