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Storms double-strike corn crop

Storms, rain and high winds that rolled through Arkansas last week struck at the state’s corn crop two ways, Jason Kelley, Cooperative Extension Service wheat and feed grains agronomist, said in a press release.

The greatest damage would come from “greensnap” – when wind breaks corn stalks snap at a node – but corn is also damaged when the stalk is blown over but not snapped, though losses can be minimized.

Contacted on Friday shortly after winds swept through central Lonoke County, Scott Mitchell, who farms land north of Lonoke, said he was surveying the extent of the wind damage to his crop, but there had been a section that had been laid down.

Kelley, in the press release, said that blown-over plants … often can straighten with minimal impact on yield. “The smaller the plants are, the better they will straighten up,” he said.

Good growing conditions and high fertility levels may have made the corn crop more susceptible to greensnap – plants that have grown rapidly have stalks that are brittle. With the north wind that blowing fields planted east-to-west would be more susceptible.

“Some fields in northeast Arkansas in isolated areas have been reported to have 75 percent or more greensnap damage,” Kelley said.

Also, most of the greensnap damage from this storm appears to have struck plants close to tasseling, the press release notes. At this late stage, plants are little able to compensate because the kernels have already been set.

“There may still be a small amount of compensating that a plant can do, but it is not nearly as great as if the damage had occurred earlier in the season. Yield loss associated with greensnap is nearly directly proportional the percentage of plants that broke,” Kelley said.

There is no good solution for fields that have sustained heavy greensnap damage; insurance covering such damage is the best-case scenario, Kelley said.

Minimizing loss in fields with greensnap damage, not covered by insurance, is difficult because replanting corn or grain sorghum this late in the season is not going to provide optimum yields. “If replanting of any sort is done, corn stalk shredding would likely have to be done to be able to plant another crop,” Kelley said.

The best option in many fields with moderate greensnap would be to keep the corn crop because a reduced yield due to greensnap may be as good or better than replanted corn or a late grain sorghum crop since nearly all the expenses are already into the corn crop, Kelley said.

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