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Weigh Your Options for Flooded Fields

When fields are hit by floods or hail, crops require special consideration.

Heavy rains late in this planting season have flooded wide swaths of farmland across the country. A drier weather pattern can improve field conditions quickly. Consider your options now so you have a plan in place when your fields are ready.

In some areas, cool, wet conditions have delayed planting. In other areas, the devastating rains and flooding came after crops emerged. The decision to replant based on poor emergence or a thin stand is difficult and requires careful consideration. Deciding how to manage yet-to-be-planted crops or those wiped out by natural disaster can be just as challenging and calls for evaluation of additional factors.

Crop insurance. If your fields are among the rapidly growing number of insured acres, consult your agent before finalizing your plans. Review your policy to determine your cropping options and final planting dates so you don’t jeopardize your coverage. Check with your local Farm Service Agency office to ensure your plans meet farm program requirements.

Replant considerations. As flood waters subside and fields dry, you can determine whether your crops will rebound. The resilience of some crops might surprise you. Soybeans, for example, can survive under water for 24 hours in warm, sunny weather or up to 96 hours if it’s cool and cloudy. Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

  • Work with your seed dealer to find shorter-season varieties
  • Before switching to another crop, understand implications of fertilizer and herbicides applied for the original crop
  • Till the ground or apply a burndown herbicide to take out surviving plants and weeds
  • Adjust planting depth and population to field conditions and planting date

Alternative crops. If the season grows too late to replant the original crop, annual forages can serve as a productive cover crop. Again, it’s important to review your crop insurance policy with your agent to confirm your plans. Depending on your region, you can plant many annual forages as late as mid-July and graze or harvest them into September. Choose your forage crop based on frost dates and which use fits your operation. Will you graze the forage? Put it up as dry hay or as silage? Millet, teff and oats provide the greatest flexibility. Sudangrass or hybrid sorghum-Sudangrass are productive grazing and silage options. Keep in mind nitrate risks with annual forages if the season turns dry. Prussic acid can be a concern with severely drought-stressed Sudangrass or when grazing it soon after a frost.

In a shortened growing season, every day is important. And the Case IH Early Riser® planter helps you meet those demands. You also can count on your local Case IH dealer and our team of regional crop production specialists to help you navigate this season’s weather challenges. If you simply need a sounding board for options and ideas, be sure to get in touch. We’re here to listen and help you maximize production across your farm.

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