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Hail Damage

On-Farm Research Protocols:  

Hail and wind damage occurred throughout the area I serve last week. Overall, I’ve been encouraged by the regrowth observed on corn and soybean plants affected by the June 14th storm. We were blessed with warmer weather and sunshine that allowed for regrowth to occur in many situations other than some fields around the Deweese area.

 

You can look for regrowth on leaves within the whorl of corn plants and on the axillary buds of soybeans. Even what appeared to be soybean ‘sticks’ may show regrowth by now.

IMAG3857

The concerns I have for plants affected by these storms is all the stem bruising on both corn and soybeans and the potential for bacterial diseases to affect corn.
For those of you affected by June 16th storms, we recommend to wait a week to assess damage and any decisions. I realize we’re also at a critical stage for replant decisions as we continue later in the season. Ultimately, decisions need to be made on a field by field basis.

Resources:

Fungicide Application

There’s no good research to Dr. Tamra Jackson-Ziems or my knowledge to support this. Fungicides only control fungal diseases. Bacterial diseases are favored after hail events and we have already seen bacterial leaf streak in the area prior to the storm. From past-years’ experience of prior wind/rain events, we can expect to see more of it in about a week. Fungicides won’t help that disease nor Goss’s wilt which is another we often see come in after hail events.

However, if you’re considering this, I’d like to have several farmers prove it to yourselves with on-farm research this year so we do have data for the future. It’s this simple. All you do is spray fungicide in enough width to complete 2 combine passes. Then skip an area for 2 combine passes. Then treat again and repeat across the field. Fungicide Protocol for Hailed Corn and Soybean. Please let me know if you’re interested in this!

Timing of fungicide app: ISU did a study to simulate hail damaged corn at tassel stage within an average of 3 or 8 days post-hail. They didn’t find the timing to provide any yield effects. They also didn’t find a statistical yield increase (90% confidence level) in fungicide application to hail damaged plants vs those which weren’t hailed although they also reported a numerical increase in 12 of the 20 fields.

Herbicide application:  I spoke with Dr. Amit Jhala, Extension Weed Specialist for his thoughts regarding this. He said ultimately herbicides shouldn’t be applied to stressed weeds in order to achieve greatest efficacy. The concern for many including me right now is how well the weeds survived the hail and how quickly they are regrowing compared to the damaged corn and soybeans. This again is a field by field assessment regarding how well your corn and soybean regrowth is occurring and how rapidly your weeds are. I watched one palmer plant in one field after June 14 storm: 1 day post hail and 2 days post hail put on two sets of leaves in that time period. I also took pictures of soybeans reduced to sticks while IMAG0013waterhemp in that field was virtually untouched. I think many are trying to wait 5-7 days post-hail to apply herbicides but there were some fields I was suggesting to apply over the weekend with the recovery already occurring and less damage.

Corn replant:  The biggest concerns with corn would be stands, eventual stalk rot/downed corn due to stalk bruising, and bacterial diseases. I’ve essentially watched stands reduced over the course of the growing season after early-season hail storms mostly due to bacterial diseases like Goss’ wilt. It will be important to have your crop insurance adjuster look at the field again prior to harvest. Splitting the stems of damaged plants across the field can help you assess any damage to growing points; they should be white/yellow and firm not brown and soft. Tattered leaves that are wrapped around the whorl should eventually turn brown and break off with the wind. They can sometimes impede new growth from the whorl as well though.

Soybean replant: Soybeans can compensate so greatly for reduced stands. From hail at this stage in the past, we’ve said to leave stands of non-irrigated at 60,000 plants per acre and irrigated at 75,000 plants per acre. Some soybeans reduced to sticks are shooting axillary buds. My biggest concern on soybeans is the stem bruising which isn’t accounted for in hail adjustments. If you want to prove replanting or not to yourself, consider slicing in soybeans next to the old row in strips across your field. Be sure to inoculate the soybeans and be sure to take prior stand counts. Soybean Replant Protocol.

There’s nothing like doing these studies and seeing the results on your own ground or from your peers’ farms. In 2006, I worked with a grower in the Lawrence, NE area on a non-irrigated soybean plant population study where he tested seeding rates of 100K, 130K, and 160K seeds/acre. He received hail at the cotyledon stage and because he was non-irrigated, chose to leave the stand. His actual stand counts were 74.4K, 89.4K, and 97.9K plants/acre respectively for the previous mentioned seeding rates which resulted in yields of 38.6, 40.6, 42.7 bu/ac respectively. Another soybean replant study occurred near Columbus, NE where the grower had an average plant stand of 75,000 plants per acre on June 11th. He chose to replant five strips across the field at a diagonal to the existing rows. The replanted soybeans ended up yielding 1 bu/ac less than the original plant stand. I realize it’s hard to want to do these extra steps for on-farm research, but this is why it’s important; it’s the way to answer these questions for yourself!  Please contact one of our team members if you’re interested in on-farm research this year!

Corn Progression After August 2013 Storm

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.

Field on August 2nd that was totaled out and planted to cover crops.

Field on August 2nd that was totaled out and planted to cover crops.  Where crop insurance allowed, producers considered various forage options.

Some producers chose to spray fungicides on fields with more foliar leaf tissue such as this one.

Some producers chose to spray fungicides on fields with more foliar leaf tissue such as this one.

Hail damage to stalks shown 4 days after the storm.

Hail damage to stalks shown 4 days after the storm.

Splitting the stalks open 4 days after the storm resulted in seeing stalk rot already beginning to set in.

Splitting the stalks open 4 days after the storm resulted in seeing stalk rot already beginning to set in.

Corn on August 2nd in blister stage in which hail stones made kernels all mushy on one side of the ears.

Corn on August 2nd in blister stage in which hail stones made kernels all mushy on one side of the ears.

Corn ear on August 6th.  Notice moldy kernels appearing on side where hail damaged ear.

Corn ear on August 6th. Notice moldy kernels appearing on side where hail damaged ear.

 

Six days after the storm, the good side of the ear that didn't receive hail damage.

Six days after the storm, the good side of the ear that didn’t receive hail damage.

Six days after the storm, the side of the ear that received hail damage.

Six days after the storm, the side of the ear that received hail damage.

33 days after the storm, kernels on the "good" side of ears were beginning to sprout.

33 days after the storm, kernels on the “good” side of ears were beginning to sprout.

33 days after the storm:  Diplodia set in creating light-weight ears and brittle kernels.  Sprouting occurring on damaged kernels on sides of ears.

33 days after the storm: Diplodia set in creating light-weight ears and brittle kernels. Sprouting occurring on damaged kernels on sides of ears.  The presence of mold does not automatically mean a mycotoxin is present. Producers also wondered about the safety of feeding moldy grain to livestock.

Feeding Storm Damaged Corn; a Few Thoughts from a Veterinarian

With the recent sprouting of grain on the ears and with more producers now learning what percent loss their crop insurance is determining for each field, I felt it would be good to talk about feeding this damaged grain again.  This post is written by Dr. Dee Griffin, DVM at UNL’s Great Plains Veterinary Education Center at Clay Center.  I appreciate Dee’s willingness to provide this information from a Veterinarian’s perspective.  Hail Damaged Corn with fungal growth.

Also a note, to date we have not found Aspergillus in our hail damaged fields.  The grain molds we are seeing are Diplodia and Fusarium.  Diplodia does not have the potential to produce mycotoxins.  Fusarium has the potential of producing fumonisin, vomitoxin, or DON.  You can bring forage samples to Husker Harvest Days this coming week to the IANR building and have them tested that day for nitrates for free if you wish.

Dr. Griffin writes:  Any time a growing grain producing plant is damaged there is a potential for changes in the plant or grain on the plant contaminated with fungus/molds to grow.  The most common change in stressed plants is the accumulation of nitrates.  Aspergillus or Fusarium will be the most likely fungi to be contaminating harvested grain from storm damaged corn in our area.

It is really important to know that most molds are not toxic.  Therefore just because mold growth is observed doesn’t mean the feedstuff will harm livestock.  Even though a mold may not be toxic it can still cause feed refusal.  Not all livestock species are equally sensitive to mold contamination and not all production groups are equally sensitive. For instance pregnant and young animals are more sensitive than mature non-pregnant animals.

Nitrate accumulation in stressed plants can cause be harmless or cause serious harm depending on:

  • the level of nitrate in the feed harvested from stressed plants,
  • on the life stage of the animal,
  • and on the species of animal.

Nitrates accumulate in the forage portion of the plant, so nitrates are not a concern in grain harvested from stressed plants.  Additionally, it is important to know nitrate levels will always be highest in the bottom part of the plant and lowest in the top foliage.  Nitrate testing is simple and reasonable quick.  Your local UNL Extension Educator can help you locate the nearest facility that does forage nitrate testing.

Feed containing nitrate levels less than (<) 1000 parts per million (ppm) seldom are associated with an animal health concern.   Feed containing nitrate levels greater than (>) 1000 ppm may be a concern in younger animals and levels >2000 ppm should not be fed to pregnant cattle.  Feeder cattle are reasonably resistant to nitrates but feeds containing >4000 ppm should not be fed to any animals.

Molds in corn grain of concern could be either Aspergillus or Fusarium.  Your UNL Extension Educator can be a great help in identifying mold growing on ears of your storm damaged corn before the grain is harvested.  Both of these fungi are potentially dangerous when found in livestock feed.  Toxins produced by molds are extremely stable, therefore if a significant level is found, the level will not decrease over time.  Silage produced from damaged plants and grain harvested from mold infested plants is potentially a problem.

Good silage management is critical to lessen the likely hood of continued mold growth after ensiling.  Proper packing to remove oxygen and improve fermentation which ensures the pH will be below 4.5 is critical.

You can’t look at harvested grains from storm damaged fields and visually identify mycotoxins.  Corn grain from storm damaged fields can … and mostly likely should … be tested for mycotoxins before feeding to livestock.  Your local UNL Extension Educator, nutritionist or veterinarian can help with mycotoxin testing.

Proper sampling is crucial to getting reliable results back from the laboratory.  A “grab sample” is not adequate. The sample submitted to the lab should be representative of the entire load, bin, pit or pile of feedstuff being evaluated.

The steps are simple

  • If sampling a field before harvest, sample at least two dozen ears that appear to have mold growth and submit all the ears to the laboratory for mycotoxin evaluation
  • If sampling after harvest, take multiple samples uniformly from throughout the silage or grain in question
    • The sample should be taken from what would be used in a single load of feed
    • That means, if five loads of feed could be made from a 50,000 lb semi-load of corn, collect not less than five samples from the semi-load of corn
    • The sample should be based on sample volume not weight
      •  For instance, collect “coffee can” size samples
    • Mix all the all samples together that were collected from the feed in question
      • For instance, if 10 coffee can size samples were collected from across the face of a silage pit, pour all 10 samples onto  a plastic sheet and thoroughly mix them together
      • Next, collect a single sample from within the 10 mixed samples
    • Submit the single sample to the laboratory

The laboratory results usually will provide some recommendations for how the feedstuff can be used.  There is an old saying, “Dilution is the solution …” meaning in this consideration, that many feedstuffs that contain higher levels of mycotoxin than would be acceptable, might be usable if a sufficient amount of non-mycotoxin contaminated feedstuff is used to dilute the mycotoxin.  Your UNL Extension Educator, nutritionist or veterinarian can help evaluate the possible uses of a damaged feedstuff containing unacceptable levels of a mycotoxin.

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