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Winded!

Published: Friday, July 18, 2014 12:31 p.m. CST

“How much did the wind hurt us?” It is a question that has been asked rather frequently throughout the past two weeks, since the two storms that resulted in a significant number of local fields being affected. No doubt the precipitation we received from the storms was beneficial. However, we could have done without the wind which accompanied the rainfall. It was a hard pill to swallow for any farming operation, including my own family farm.

It was a perfect storm with all the right factors in place to have the result of leaning or root lodged corn. The corn crop was growing rapidly because of the warm (not hot) days, cooler nights and received rain showers at just the right times. If you picture the perfect corn plant in your head, the corn crop was matching that idea perfectly.

Root lodged corn is just corn that has a leaning point at the roots. If Mother Nature has been kind to the farmer, she only root lodged the corn. A farmer might see some yield loss to root lodged corn, but he or she will still have something to harvest. Unfortunately this is not always the case. What could happen is green snap. Just as the title suggests, the corn plant snaps somewhere along the stalk of the plant and breaks. This type of damage puts a very sad look on a farmer’s face and pit in the stomach because that plant will not produce an ear.

The day following the storm, my father and I took our unmanned aerial system, otherwise known as a drone, to a couple of our wind-damaged fields. Having agricultural technology advanced to a point where one can get a great overview of their crop, just by flying a remote controlled helicopter with a camera mounted to the base, is just incredible. What we saw after we flew was not incredible; it actually baffled us. What we thought or hoped to see was decent standing corn in spots, but in reality, most of the corn crop was leaning over. In places where we just assumed we would be facing our worst fears, the corn stood tall and proud. After having numerous conversations and making a few service calls, the more that trend continued.

This story is not all gloom and doom. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Over the passing days the corn crop has rallied and is making a comeback. Where the corn started leaning, the crop has goosed-necked back up and started to stand upright again. Giving the plant an opportunity to receive pollination and still produce some good yields this fall.

I still have great hopes for this year’s crop, but there is still some work to do. The once downed corn can still benefit from any management originally planned. With the weather conditions we have been having, diseases like Northern Corn Leaf Blight and Grey Leaf Spot have appeared sooner than has been seen in the past, and a fungicide application can help curve and give much benefit to the corn crop. Especially since it now has a closer relationship with the ground than before, leaving the stalk and rest of plant more susceptible to pressure from diseases. My recommendation would be to still manage the crop like the wind event never happened. With Mother Nature’s cooperation, farmers in the area should likely see full grain bins while the combines roll this fall!

As always, I must do my public service announcement. Please remain vigilant this fall. There will be more farm equipment traveling on the roadways and work needing to be accomplished around heavy machinery. By taking a few moments to pause and to work carefully will get everyone home safely at the end of the day. I wish everyone a safe a prosperous harvest!

Matthew Denton resides in Princeton and is an associate representative with White Oak Ag Inc.

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