Agronomy Geeks Ontario — Ep. 17: The Yield Impact of Wet Feet

There’s no two ways about it — huge swaths of Ontario’s growing region is now excessively wet. And not, “Hey, that was a heavy rainstorm!” wet, but soaked-right-through-for-the-third-time wet.

With all this water, farmers are understandably nervous about what impact wet soil and standing water may have on the yield of the corn and soybean crops. For that answer, field editor Bernard Tobin asked Dr. Dave Hooker, field crop agronomist assistant professor with the University of Guelph-Ridgetown, to talk yield impact in this episode of Agronomy Geeks Ontario.

When estimating potential yield loss, Hooker says farmers need to first delineate areas hit by standing water vs. saturated soils. The impact of each is unique (though neither is good, of course). Standing water can cause plant and root decay, but saturated soil over more than a couple days can be just as detrimental to yield.

With corn, Hooker says it’s important to inspect plant for damage and assess plants for visual symptoms of water logging and stress. As far as yield loss goes, it can be significant — up to 50% — if saturated conditions persist for four to eight days. The one glimmer of not-as-bad news, however, is that true saturation for that long is likely only happening in pockets of a field.

Soybeans, on the other hand, present their own challenges in estimating yield loss, as wet conditions really opens up this crop for serious root rots and disease. What’s more, soybean roots can’t necessarily recover as quickly as corn roots can, and nitrogen fixation systems should be kicking in now, but will be delayed. (Reports of yellowing soybeans are already numerous. Hear Peter Johnson explain more on this topic here.)

To round out this Agronomy Geeks discussion, Hooker and Tobin run through where a fungicide application may fit in to all of this, and when it may instead be futile vs. worth the cost.

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