Effects of flooding or ponding on young corn

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

Recent intense rainfall events (technically referred to as “toad stranglers” or “goose drownders”) have caused flooding of low-lying corn fields or ponding in poorly drained swales within fields. Other areas within fields, while not technically flooded or ponded, may remain saturated for lengthy periods of time. What are the prospects for recently submerged corn fields?

The sarcastic answer is that flooded crops will survive until they die. What I mean to say is that no one can tell you with certainty the day after the storm whether a ponded area of a corn field will survive or whether there will be long-term yield consequences until enough time has gone by such that you can assess the actual recovery of the damaged plants. We can, however, talk about the factors that increase or decrease the risks of severe damage or death to flooded soils.

  • Plants that are completely submerged is at higher risk than those that are partially submerged.
    • Plants that are only partially submerged may continue to photosynthesize, albeit at limited rates.
  • The longer an area remains ponded, the higher the risk of plant death.
    • Most agronomists believe that young corn can survive up to about 4 days of outright ponding if temperatures are relatively cool (mid-60's F or cooler); fewer days if temperatures are warm (mid-70's F or warmer).
    • Soil oxygen is depleted within about 48 hours of soil saturation. Without oxygen, the plants cannot perform critical life sustaining functions; e.g. nutrient and water uptake is impaired and root growth is inhibited.
  • Even if surface water subsides quickly, the likelihood of dense surface crusts forming as the soil dries increases the risk of emergence failure for recently planted crops.
    • Be prepared with a rotary hoe to break up the crust and aid emergence.
  • The greater the deposition of mud or old crop residues on plants as the water subsides, the greater the stress on the plants due to reduced photosynthesis.
    • Ironically, such situations would benefit from another rainfall event to wash the mud deposits from the leaves.
  • Corn younger than about V6 (six fully exposed leaf collars) is more susceptible to ponding damage than is corn older than V6.
    • This is partly because young plants are more easily submerged than older taller plants and partly because the corn plant's growing point remains below ground until about V6. The health of the growing point can be assessed initially by splitting stalks and visually examining the lower portion of the stem (Nielsen, 2008a). Within 3 to 5 days after water drains from the ponded area, look for the appearance of fresh leaves from the whorls of the plants.
  • Extended periods of saturated soils AFTER the surface water subsides will take their toll on the overall vigor of the crop.
    • Some root death will occur and new root growth will be stunted until the soil dries to acceptable moisture contents. As a result, plants may be subject to greater injury during a subsequently dry summer due to their restricted root systems.
  • Concomitant (I found a new word in the dictionary!) with the direct stress of saturated soils on a corn crop, flooding and ponding can cause significant losses of soil nitrogen due to denitrification and leaching of nitrate N.
    • Significant loss of soil N will cause nitrogen deficiencies and possible additional yield loss.
    • On the other hand, if the corn dies in the ponded areas it probably does not matter how much nitrogen you've lost.
  • Lengthy periods of wet soil conditions favor the development of seedling blight diseases, especially those caused by Pythium fungi (Sweets, 2008).
    • Poorly drained areas of fields are most at risk for the development of these diseases and so will also be risky for potential replant operations.
  • Certain diseases, such as common smut and crazy top, may also become greater risks due to flooding and cool temperatures (Pataky and Snetselaar, 2006; Sweets, 2011).
    • The fungus that causes crazy top depends on saturated soil conditions to infect corn seedlings.
    • The common smut fungal organism is ubiquitous in soils and can infect young corn plants through tissue damaged by floodwaters. There is limited hybrid resistance to either of these two diseases and predicting damage is difficult until later in the growing season.

Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...


Comments (0) Leave a comment 

Name
e-Mail (required)
Location

Comment:

characters left


Grain Storage Systems

Behlen Grain Storage Systems offers large capacity bins with diameters from 16’ to 157’ and capacities exceeding 1,500,000 bushels. All ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form