Derecho harvest planning

AMES, IA - Some basic crop damage considerations:

  • For all crops, be sure to contact your crop insurance provider.
  • Soybeans and forages will bounce back with little or no loss in the wind-damaged areas.
  • Corn snapped off or pinched and wilting below the ear is lost unless it can be retrieved as green chop or silage.
  • Corn snapped off above the ear, corn with severe loss of leaf area due to leaf tissue being stripped off by the wind, or corn that is severely root-lodged and laying at an angle less than 45° from the soil surface should continue to try to fill grain. However, limitations on the ability to take in water or plant nutrients or a compromised ability to conduct photosynthesis will limit grain fill, resulting in smaller kernels and perhaps lighter test weights. Some plants may die early as they cannibalize themselves trying to fill grain.
  • Corn plants that are only slightly root-lodged or leaning at greater than a 45° angle from the soil surface should have minimal yield reduction.
  • At this stage of plant development, lodged corn will do very little, if any, uprighting, so plan that what you see now will be what you see at harvest except for the plant color.

When planning for harvest, remember that:

  • Corn ears close to the ground will have an increased likelihood of ear rot.
  • Damaged (including cannibalized) stalks will likely be weaker, increasing harvest losses.
  • Tangled stalks will be whipped around more, increasing harvest losses as ears are thrown away from the combine.
  • If reels and/or snout cones are going to be added to the corn head, get them lined up now.
  • Harvest will be slow and frustrating, so plan to start ASAP, take it slow, and take frequent breaks; no crop is worth serious injury or death.
  • Starting harvest early will mean that stalk integrity will be better, so harvest losses will be less. It doesn’t take much prevented harvest loss to pay for moisture discounts or drying costs that are incurred. Also, you will be better able to finish harvest somewhat timely.

There are two schools of thought on where to start harvest:

  • Starting with the most severely damaged fields will mean that the fields that are most likely to have significant harvest losses or grain quality issues will be harvested when stalk and ear shank integrity are at their best and ear molds will have had less opportunity to cause damage. However, better quality grain will have more time to deteriorate.
  • Starting with the least damaged fields will better preserve the quality of the best grain, which may benefit marketability of that grain, but it will also allow the most damaged acres to deteriorate more prior to harvest.
  • Consider the quality of the grain and whether it will go to a general market, ethanol plant, or livestock feed.

Derecho Impacts and Resources for Crops

Meetings to be offered:

ISU Extension and Outreach will help host the following meetings to discuss crop-related impacts and resources from the storm.

  • Derecho Impacts and Resources for Crops - August 24, 2020, 9:30 a.m., Johnson County Fairgrounds, 4261 Oak Crest Hill Rd SE, Iowa City, Iowa
  • Derecho Impacts and Resources for Crops - August 24, 2020, 1:30 p.m., O’Grady’s, 200 1st Ave., Van Horne, Iowa

Additional information on these meetings can be found here.

Storm recovery resources

As we work on cleaning up and moving forward from the storm damage, ISU Extension and Outreach is working on compiling a list of Storm Damage Resources found on the Integrated Crop Management web page.

Check back frequently as new materials are being added daily. 

A few articles currently posted may be of interest:

Some federal assistance may be available. See:

A few other resources/sites to watch:

Author: Rebecca Vittetoe, ISU Extension & Outreach Field Agronomist

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