With somewhere in the neighborhood of a foot of rain in the county during the past 10-day period, many farm fields have experienced flooding, washouts and ponding of excess rainwater. Throw in wind and hail damage, and producers have lots of concerns and decisions to make.
Reviewing some of those concerns and some advice were topics of an informational meeting Tuesday at the Palo Alto County Extension Office. Paul Kassel, Extension and Outreach Field Agronomist from Iowa State University was joined by Mike Patton and Lisa Forberger to remind area producers about options for replanting, crop loss and potential disaster declarations following last week's weather.
"The good news in all of this is that we are no longer in a drought," Kassel noted, drawing laughter from nearly three-dozen area farmers.
DISCUSSING?OPTIONS - Paul Kassel, Extension Outreach Field Agronomist for Iowa State University, talked about hail damage to crops during a meeting for producers Tuesday at the Palo Alto County Extension Office. Options regarding crop damage due to the recent storms in the area were discussed during the meeting. -- Dan Voigt photo
According to Kassel, there are areas in the region that suffered extreme damage from hail during the storm on Monday, June 16, but that other areas didn't fare as badly. "For the most part, corn isn't going to be bad enough from the rain and hail to need to be replanted," Kassel said. "I'm sure there will be soybeans that will be replanted, but at this stage of the growing season, close to July 1, our studies show you would most likely be looking at a loss of up to 17 bushels to the acre. The big question now is when you will be able to replant."
According to Kassel, corn and soybeans had a good start and should be able to survive the onslaught of water.
"Good news is it's been warm and will lead to good crop development," he said. "The planting this year was timely. The crop has a running start to survive this. The corn plants are big enough to take in the standing water and survive. But, there will still be some areas that do need replanting."
Another key issue that heavy rainfalls and standing water in fields causes is the de-nitrification, or nitrogen loss in cornfields, up to four to five percent per day. In those cases, nitrogen will need to be replaced, according to Kassel. "Like the replanting, it's a question of when and how you can get out there to add the nitrogen back, but side dressing will replace what is lost. The corn will respond to additional nitrogen, even after all this water."
Kassel noted that soybeans, which have multiple growing points, unlike corn, actually tolerate storm damage better, and should recover as well. However, there will be the possibility of soil disease, such as phytophthora later in the growing season.
"But, if you feel it's too late to replant for a crop, you can consider crops such as millets for forage products, sorghums, or even corn just for a silage crop," Kassel added.
Mike Patton reminded the producers that anyone who was covered under Federal Crop Insurance needed to check with their insurance company before taking any action in terms of replanting.
"Actually, in this area, we are fortunate that we haven't had the rain for the last two months that has happened further southwest, down around Onawa," Patton said.
Reminding the group that the final planting date for corn was May 31 and soybeans was June 15 under federal crop insurance deadlines, Patton said that federal crop's determination on replanting was based on the viability of the remaining plants in a policy holder's fields. "A field has to have 65 percent of the plants not viable to be deferred."
"The most important thing I can impress on you is to be in contact with your Federal Crop Insurance agent before you do anything," Patton concluded.
Lisa Forberger, County Director of the Palo Alto County Farm Service Agency office, presented a slide show of the flooding in the county.
"I was able to fly over the county last Tuesday morning with Mike Thatcher," Forberger said. "At that time, I felt a good 10 percent of the county was under water. But after Thursday, when the river came up and went out of its banks, I would say 30 percent of the county was under water."
According to Forberger, there is very little that the Farm Service Agency can do for producers. "If you have suffered crop losses, you need to be in contact with your federal crop insurance agents. The FSA doesn't have some of the programs we've had available in the past as they weren't included in the Farm Bill."
"It is very important that you report all of your acres to the FSA Office," Forberger said. "It's required by the Farm Bill. I would tell you all that if you do decide to replant, you need to visit with your insurance company first, and then come in and report your acres to us."