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Extension > Local Extension Offices > Meeker > County Agriculture Educator > Articles > Hail damage to Corn and Soybean: Evaluation and Replant Options

Hail damage to Corn and Soybean: Evaluation and Replant Options

Source: Dave Nicolai, Extension Educator, Crops, UMN Extension

Recent storms left a large area of western and central Minnesota affected by hail and wind damage. Yield potential of hail-damaged corn depends primarily on the number of remaining plants per acre with healthy growing points that will recover, the amount of leaf area lost on these plants, and the growth stage at which the crop was damaged. To determine whether a corn plant will survive and regrow, split stalks and examine the growing point.

In corn, the growing point remains below the soil surface until the V5 stage (5 collared leaves). Growing points located near the soil surface can be damaged by freezing from hail accumulation around the base of plants. At the V8 stage (8 collared leaves), the growing point is located about 12 inches above the soil and has a small tassel at the top of it. Healthy growing points will be firm and white to yellow. If damaged, the growing point will be watery and orange to brown. Plants with damaged growing points will not recover.

Another consideration is stem bruising. Severe stem bruising limits the plant’s ability to translocate water and nutrients and also reduces standability. Plants with stem bruising should have their stalks split in order to determine the severity of the stem bruising, and whether the growing point has been injured. Plants with stem damage extending beyond the leaf sheaths and into the pith of the plant either will not recover or likely will have large reductions in yield. Fields with severe stem bruising should be harvested early to avoid significant losses from stalk lodging.

Corn grain yield potential will decrease with decreasing populations when compared to an initial corn population of 36,000 plants per acre. For example, a remaining population of 24,000 plants per acre has comparable grain yield potential of 91% and at a population of 16,000; the grain yield potential is 76% by comparison.

Soybean plants with significant amounts of green tissue remaining (more than one green cotyledon and/or remaining leaf tissue) are likely to survive early-season hail damage, as they can regrow from axillary buds located at the juncture of the stem and leaves. Soybean plants cut below the cotyledons or entirely stripped of leaf tissue will not recover. Similarly, larger plants with a small amount of green leaf material remaining are likely to recover, but expect regrowth to occur slowly. Remaining stands will be set back. Soybean plants with significant stem bruising may recover, but will be more susceptible to lodging late in the season.

Soybean can tolerate low plant populations well, with only small reductions in yield potential across wide ranges in stand loss. For instance, populations near 100,000 plants per acre are likely to produce maximum yields, and those around 80,000 will yield about 90% of the maximum. However, expected yields drop more rapidly in stands below 50,000, with 39,000 plants per acre likely to produce about 75% of the normal yield. For soybean, leaf loss alone through the V4 stage (4 fully developed trifoliolate leaves) has little effect on yield. For more information about corn and soybean yield loss due to hail please refer to the on-line University of Minnesota Extension reference at


David Nicolai
Extension Educator, Crops & Institute for Ag Prof Coord
(651) 480-7706
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