A severe hailstorm ripped through northeast Wisconsin’s dairy country on July 7. In certain areas of Manitowoc County, the corn crop looked more like sugarcane plants. The damage was so severe that it created a backlog for crop insurance agents who still haven’t assessed damage in many areas. For Manitowoc County and the six surrounding counties with over 100 dairy cows per square mile, there is angst regarding this year’s corn crop and more importantly its silage potential.
Given the situation, Manitowoc County Extension Agent Scott Gunderson is urging patience on assessing the damage. “It will limit the genetic potential of the crop. So, we will have less yield clearly as a result,” said Gunderson in a Fox 11 News report that aired after the storm event.
Tough crop year
The issues with corn and its silage potential have been piled on top of the already compromised alfalfa crop.
“In fact, our losses are probably approaching 65 percent on alfalfa,” said Gunderson. “There are some very good fields on well-drained soils. But there are lot of other fields on heavy clay that just didn’t come back at all.”
Back to the corn . . . some of the crop may recover from the hail damage.
“Don’t replant. Don’t tear up a field right now,” advised Gunderson during the interview with Fox 11 News reporter Eric Peterson. “I think it’s best to wait a few days to assess the dead tissue versus live tissue and the growing point of the corn to see how its impacted,” he said.
As for the dairyman interviewed in the news story, he is Randy Geiger, father of Hoard’s Dairyman Managing Editor Corey Geiger, the author of this article.
That corn crop, shown in the video, was planted by Geiger in early May and was off to a great start. However, the 20-minute plus hailstorm that yielded 3 inches of hail caused heavy damage. It not only damaged the corn crop but the wheat and soybeans, too. All three crops will have significant damage or even may be a total loss.
In addition to crop damage, the storm took down power lines on U.S. Highway 10 and caused power outages throughout the area.
Crop assessment on July 17
“The corn has some active leaves but there is enough dry material,” commented Geiger. “Most agronomists who I consulted with estimate the crop will be half, at best. It will all be driven by living leaf tissue.”
Concerned about the potential of both mold and mycotoxins, and needing to salvage the corn for silage, Geiger has been consulting with his county agent, insurance agent, and agronomist about applying fungicide.“If the stalks show some strength in the coming days, we may apply fungicide by plane,” said Geiger. “The question right now is economics: Will the fungicide give a return on investment given the corn crop’s challenging condition?”