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.
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)
Factor 2: Damage levels
Factor 3: Foliar treatments – applied within 2 – 3 days of damage
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.
Wheat Hail Final Report
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