Just Wait on Frost-Damaged Corn

May 10, 2010 03:26 PM
Jackson Dohlman feels like maybe he dodged a bullet over the weekend. The former retail agronomist turned partner of Saratoga Partnership, a large farming operation in Northeast Iowa, says the stayed above freezing throughout the weekend.
(For the updated Crop Progress and Conditions ratings.)
Others in the area weren't so lucky and Dohlman says if he were still in the retail business, he'd likely be checking customer fields today where corn had emerged.
"The first thing I'd do is probably dig up a few seedlings. If the shoot is white, it's probably healthy, your probably in good shape. If it's brown a mushy, you may have problem.”
Further west in Iowa, agronomy consultant and farmer Michael McNeill says temperatures dipped to 28 degrees near Algona Saturday night and Sunday morning. "We froze a lot of corn over here, but I think we'll be OK.”
McNeill is most concerned about planting depth. He did dig up some seedlings on his own farm and split the stem to evaluate the damage. He says the damage was right at soil level, about an inch above growing point. "It was planted about 1 ¾ to 2 inches,” he says "If you planted shallow, that may be a different story and you probably lost some plants.”
Heat is the best thing for the crop right now, while recognizing it's about 40 degrees in Algona this afternoon. He believes the crop, even the shallow planted crop, should be OK in the near term, but it will be at least a week until that is known.
"We won't know anything until the weekend. The corn will start growing at 50 degrees, but right now we're not expecting that until Thursday or Friday. That's pushing the envelope.”
In Illinois, the northern ¼ of the state appears to have been hit the hardest, says Channel Bio Field Agronomist Mike Toohill. He also believes much of the corn is still in good shape, but he's concerned about fields where temperatures stay cool, if above freezing, and soils remain saturated.
"There are no other options than just to wait,” he says. "The plant will live off the seed and the little bit of roots that are there until we get some sunlight and photosynthesis can start again and convert the sunlight to energy to make the plant grow.”

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