Early Ontario frost bites into edible bean yield potential and could impact corn standability

A light frost of minus 1 or so this early in the year shouldn’t have impacted Ontario grain crops like it has, but here we are.

“It hurt way more than I ever anticipated,” says Peter Johnson, RealAgriculture agronomist.

Eastern Ontario was much harder hit with colder temps over several nights, but in southwestern Ontario, night time temps on Friday night barely dropped below freezing; but the damage on soybeans, edible beans, and corn is surprising.

Farmers now are asking if the frost was hard enough to stop translocation of energy into cobs and pods, and what impact this frost will have on yield.

Johnson says that in some areas, the smell of frosted corn is very strong, and double crop beans are black they were hit so hard, so the impact will depend on the stage of the crop and how well the crop stands up until harvest. (Story continues below)

Why did such a light frost seem to cause so much damage? Johnson suspects a few issues — perhaps corn was already pulling energy out of the top leaves and made them more susceptible to frost. Maybe the swing from quite warm to frost was faster than the plant could adapt. Either way, the bottom line is that for some edible beans the hit to yield may be significant, but soybeans will likely be less impacted. With corn, the majority will be OK, but standability may become an issue as the crop starts pulling energy from the stalk.

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