Agronomists are working with farmers to assess damage and make any necessary replant plans
By Jackie Clark
Farmers across Ontario are checking their fields after some areas of the province got a heavy frost last week.
Agronomists have been busy helping those farmers assess the damage and make replant decisions. Frost and the resulting impact varied geographically.
Worst-affected soybean fields were “any muck soils, no-till, and heavy cornstalk residue bean fields,” Leigh Hudson told Farms.com. She’s the Maizex territory manager for eastern Ontario.
Similarly, corn on muck fields in her region were most impacted.
“I’ve only seen a little bit of corn that should be maybe replanted but it’s a little early still to make that call. But bean-wise, there are beans that have been replanted since the weekend,” Hudson explained.
She and other agronomists are urging producers to exercise patience when assessing damage.
“The plants need to recover from the frost that they’ve experienced and it doesn’t just happen overnight,” she said. “They just need time to recover and let the next leaf or whatever new growth to happen.”
Deb Campbell, owner of Agronomy Advantage, agreed.
“Need to be patient. It takes a minimum of 48 hours to see if new growth is initiating. Call your agronomy support people for help to sort things out. It’s stressful. But it is still May and a good opportunity for a positive outcome,” she posted in a Tweet on May 30.
Some crops in Ontario have experienced multiple frosts, and cool nights over the last week haven’t sped recovery either, Hudson said. Many producers are also in dire need of moisture.
“If we had more rain, crops also wouldn’t be stressed that way,” she added. “Crops will recover a little easier if they get a drink of water too.”
A good chance of recovery exists for many fields, particularly corn.
“With corn, the growing point is below the ground, at least in my zone,” Hudson explained. All corn in her region was smaller than V5 when the frost hit.
Producers should assess “whether the frost, especially on the muck soils, went past the soil surface. Those are the acres that we’re a little worried about right now,” she added.
Plants that suffered frost damage might see some structure loss as they develop, for example a few lost leaves in corn silage, Hudson said.
More producers may also choose to invest in foliar fungicide “to preserve what’s left of the yield,” she added.
If recovery isn’t an option, farmers should work with their seed supplier to find available and appropriate maturity varieties for a truncated season, Hudson said.
[Author's note: the image above depicts hail damage, not frost damage. Opportunities to take new field photos are limited due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, and photo archives did not have examples of frost damage at an accurate maturity level for crops currently in the field. Apologies for any confusion.]
ProdavacSlika\iStock\Getty Images Plus photo