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Hail Recovery – Wheat


Farming Smarter Project

Timeline: 2016 – 2019

Project Contact: Ken Coles



Farming Smarter wanted to produce scientific data about crop recovery after it sustains hail damage. They developed, tested and verified a hail simulator to produce damage on crops. Project technicians damage wheat at various three growth stages (early, mid, late) with degrees of damage. The project compares an untreated check to plots treated with fungicide and nutrient within a few days after the damage occurs.


  1. Evaluate the response of wheat crops to simulated hail damage at different growth stages
  2. Evaluate the agronomic/economic effect of using fungicides and nutrient blends on wheat crops that are damaged by simulated hail
  3. Identify potential management practices to improve crop growth, harvestability and yield after hail damage
  4. Develop a practical method for simulating hail damage


The field trials on wheat took place at Lethbridge, Vegreville (Innotech), and Falher (SARDA). Data collected includes density,  height (pre- and post-hail damage), post-hail NDVI measurements, biomass at maturity, yield and quality parameters (test weight and 1000-kernel weight).

Factor 1: Timing (of damage)

  1. Early (tillering) BBCheng?
  2. Mid-season (early heading)
  3. Late season (flowering

Factor 2: Damage levels

  1. 0%
  2. 33% (light damage)
  3. 67% (heavy damage)

Factor 3: Foliar treatments – applied within 2 – 3 days of damage

  1. Check
  2. Fungicide (Prosaro 320 mL/ac) WV = 40 L/ac
  3. Nutrient blend (Alpine G22 3 L/ac) WV = 40 L/ac


The principle outcome was that the extent of hail damage depends largely on what growth stage is damaged and when, more than the level of damage or recovery products applied. A heavy damage early on in the year that breaks all the leaves off is less damaging than a light damage late in the year that breaks stems or damages heads.

We found that the independent of hail damage, the fungicide was overall effective at improving yield in some site years, but the nutrient did not. We did not find that either improved yield as a result of the hail damage. This effectively means that money thrown at a hail damage is wasted. It would be better for a farmer to cut their losses on a hail damaged crop. And it is especially prudent to insure for hail to a level that cover at minimum operating costs.  

Future work for hail research might include comparing an early damaged hail crop to one that is reseeded afterwards to compare which will yield the best.


  • Growth stage is the largest factor affecting yield loss
  • Minimal response to rescue products
  • Wheat is very tolerant to damage at tillering stage
  • Late nutrient applications may help weeds more that crops
  • Hail insurance is good



Timing of hail more important than damage Western Producer Jan 2019

Healing hail damage depends on timing Farming Smarter article July 2018

WheatStalk: Researching crop recovery from hail damage Rural Roots Canada August 2017

Managing your hail damage Grainews March 2017

Learning in the field at Farming Smarter, Farming Smarter Magazine, Spring 2017, page 10

Do hail recovery products really work, Farming Smarter Magazine, Fall 2016, page 10

Hail simulator helps determine crop recovery expectations Western Producer July 7, 2016 

Plot hop season ends on a high note for Farming Smarter – July 28, 2016 

DIY hail Top Crop Manager March 2016 

Researchers invent their own version of the great white combine Alberta Farmer Express July 2015

Hail simulations give crops a beating Western Producer July 2015


Project Videos

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