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Growers still concerned over hail damage

By Staff | Aug 28, 2009

Grant Klever, agronomy sales specialist for NEW Cooperative, shows Denis Heatherington some of the hail damaged corn at NEW Co-op’s test plot located on the Rick Nelson farm near Otho.

OTHO – A field day held last week near Otho, sponsored by NEW Cooperative, not only gave seed dealers and NEW Co-op a chance to show off their products, but gave growers with major damage by a hailstorm the chance to learn more about just what is going on out in their fields two weeks later.

The hailstorm that affected many acres in the area occurred on Aug. 9 leaving some fields with the appearance of being harvested, while other fields with crops standing have left those producers wondering how close to harvest they will get.

Steve Barnhart, regional agronomist for Winfield Solutions, was present to talk to over 50 producers that were in attendance.

The corn crop that suffered hail damage, but is still standing, Barnhart said, is beginning to show some ear mold growth and the question he asks is just what are producers planning to do with that grain?

“Some of the molds are toxic so I suggest getting it tested before you try to feed it,” Barnhart said.

If a producer is planning on storing the corn, Barnhart recommends getting it dried to the 15 percent moisture stage as quickly as possible and to be sure to monitor the grain.

“Make sure air is going through the grain,” he said. “The same principles apply with every harvest, you just might need to fine tune some things.”

When it comes to harvesting damaged, molded corn, Barnhart suggested adjusting combines to screen the grain as it is harvested, making it as clean as possible before putting it in the bin. This, he said, will hopefully mean most of the molds will be just shot out the back of the combine and left in the field.

The final part of the growing season for hail-damaged corn, Barnhart said, would be crucial as most stalks are becoming increasingly weaker due to bruises caused by large hailstones.

Depending on the hybrid, and the obvious severity of the storm, each field may mature differently and require watching closely to get it harvested before it falls over.

“You might want to change your plans on where to harvest first,” he said. “It might even be a wetter corn field that needs to come out first.”

Even if hail didn’t damage the stalk, Barnhart said, the loss of leaves, coupled with the season’s cooler, cloudy weather, will force the plant to draw nutrients from the stalk in order to fill kernels, weakening the stalk.

“I just can’t stress enough to watch those fields,” he said.

Corn falling to the ground will of course not only hurt yields this year, but could affect next year’s bean crop as well when it comes back as volunteer corn.

Volunteer corn, Barnhart said, could be an issue next spring and in order to help control it early, he suggested getting those cornfields tilled during the fall if at all possible.

Tilling next spring could just result in spreading the corn kernels to where they will germinate.

If some corn does end up germinating, Barnhart warned to not let it go too long.

“Get out there and get the volunteer corn before it gets too bad,” he said. “Don’t wait too long” or “next spring. It is still a weed and competing for the nutrients with the beans.”

Contact Kriss Nelson by e-mail at jknelson@frontiernet.net.

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