Soybean School: Assessing hail damage and yield impact

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It only takes 15 seconds for a summer hailstorm to terrorize a soybean field and turn a great-looking crop into a nightmare.

But soybeans are tough, as we discover on this episode of the RealAgriculture Soybean School where we catch up with AGRIS Co-operative agronomist Dale Cowan near Mount Brydges, Ont., after a mid-July hailstorm.

As Cowan surveys the field, he notes that the crop was at the V4 to V5  growth stage, with five trifoliate leaves, when the storm hit. There’s extensive damage with considerable stem breakage, shredded leaves, and things don’t look good.

Cowan, however, is optimistic the soybeans will rebound. “These plants really are quite resilient, they will recover,”  he says. “They’ll be a bit delayed, but a broken stem doesn’t mean the end of the world. It just means that the node below it will now start a new stem and possibly more flowers, or another branch, to replace the last leaves.”

What’s the potential yield impact? That’s a tough call at this point, Cowan concedes. “We may not see a whole lot of impact,” he says.  “It is going to change the stature of the crops, it’s going to be more bushy, maybe not as tall, which might be a good thing — there’s less threat of lodging.

“I don’t see a lot of stem bruising here, so I don’t think we’ve lost any plants,” Cowan notes. “It just looks worse than it really is. But I think if we have a good August with some timely rains and no more nonsense from Mother Nature we could recover here and have somewhat of an average crop. ”

In the video, Cowan also looks at the impact the hailstorm had on neighbouring corn and wheat fields.

Tap here for more Soybean School videos.

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