This year I was counting my blessings as we made it through May with no tornadoes in Clay County and no Memorial Day storms! Yet history seems to repeat itself on days. Last year, hail went through the counties north of us on June 3. This year, hail hit us on June 3rd….an estimated 30% of Clay County. Please also see the resources listed at the end of this post for more specific information regarding decision-making.
For more information on hail and replant decisions, please see:
On August 1, 2013, a severe wind and hail storm damaged 170,000 acres of corn and 86,000 acres of soybeans in Clay County, Nebraska. Corn at the time of the storm was from brown silk-blister. While the storms in the Gibbon/Blue Hill areas occurred a little earlier in the growing season, the following photos show the progression of damage in the event it can be of help to those affected by 2014 storms.
The Mother’s Day 2014 storms caused significant damage in Clay County and other areas of the State. It never ceases to amaze me how people throughout the area respond to storm damage! Clay County has had its share, and yet the attitude of those affected has been one of thankfulness-thankfulness that no one was injured and that so many still have their homes in spite of damage. It’s also wonderful to see people from all over the County and area pull together with each storm-helping each other out bringing themselves and equipment to pick up debris or help however possible. It’s a blessing to work with and serve the people of this County!
As clean-up continues, the following are a list of resources that may be helpful to those affected by the storms. Thoughts and prayers go out to all who were affected!
- Numerous Tornado Damage, Recovery, Cleaning, Decision Making resources (scroll to Recovery portion in middle of page)
- Tips for Early Tornado Damage Recovery
- When to Save and Throw out Frozen Food after Power Outages
- When to Save and Throw out Refrigerated Foods after Power Outages
- Flooding and Corn Survival
- Flooding and Soybean Survival
- Evaluating the Need to Replant
The latest event in the Clay County storm occurring August 1st has become germination of “good” kernels left on the ears that have been damaged by hail. This event of kernel germination prior to harvest is also called “vivipary”.
Typically we wouldn’t see this occur before black layer because of the hormonal balance within the kernels-particularly the balance between gibberellin and abscisic acid. According to a study by White, et. al (2000), Gibberellin production with the lack of ABA allowed for kernel germination while less Gibberellin and more ABA deterred kernel germination. At full maturity, very little ABA is left in the kernel (in both corn and soybeans) which allows them to germinate in correct conditions after harvest. But this can also allow for sprouting in the ear after black layer when corn is still drying down, particularly in tight-husked, upright ears with conditions of high humidity or rain after black layer. Sprouting under those conditions typically occurs at the base of the ear first.
Why are kernels sprouting before we’ve reached black layer?
That’s a good question. I haven’t found much in the way of scientific explanation other than the thought that the hormonal balance of the kernels can be altered by physical damage from hail, bird feeding, and grain mold. Some ear mold fungi also produce gibberellic acid which can lead to a hormonal balance shift in these ears stimulating germination. I also haven’t observed that this is hybrid-dependent and am finding as much as 25-50% sprouted ears in various areas of hail-damaged fields.
Make sure your crop insurance adjuster is aware of the situation and make sure to submit samples for kernel damage due to mold, sprouting, and check for mycotoxins prior to harvest.
The local co-op may or may not choose to accept the load depending on percent damage and the standards they need to follow. If the load is rejected, contact your crop insurance agent to determine your next step. DO NOT bin the grain on your farm until you contact your insurance agent as they have specific rules that need to be followed in the case of grain rejected due to mycotoxins or kernel damage from storms.
Sprouted kernels lead to higher kernel damage and more fines in a load. Keys for harvest will include harvesting early, getting corn dried down to 14%, potentially drying at a high temperature to kill the sprout, screening out fines, and monitoring stored grain closely for hot spots, mold, and additional sprouting grain.
You can also choose not to take it to grain right now, and honestly, that may be the best option for several of the hail-damaged fields. Silage is still an option and it would be recommended to sample the green chop going into the silage pit for potential mycotoxins. Mycotoxin level does not change with fermentation so cattle feeders would have a good idea of any mycotoxin levels if sampling was done in this manner. See this post for additional information on making silage.
Du-Pont Pioneer. (2007). Field Facts: Pre-mature Germination of Corn Kernels.
Nielsen, R.L. (2012). Premature Corn Kernel Sprouting (aka Vivipary). Corny News Network, Purdue University.
White et. al. (2000). Gibberellins and Seed Development in Maize. II. Gibberellin Synthesis Inhibition Enhances Abscisic Acid Signaling in Cultured Embryos. Plant Physiology Vol. 122 no. 4 pg. 1089-1098.
Wiebold, B. (2009). Wet Weather Can Cause Seeds to Sprout before Harvest. Integrated Pest & Crop Management Newsletter, Univ of Missouri.