How to Deal with Hail Damage

Written on 06/16/18

The 2018 growing season is proving to be another year of difficult weather patterns, with moisture stress and the looming threat of hail plaguing the Prairies.

As we all know, moisture and hail put the plant under significant physiological stress - damaging the plant, stunting its growth, and ultimately affecting yield.

Figure 1: Hail Damage to Wheat. Inset: Closeup of Hail Damage to Wheat

What Happens to the Plant During Hail?

Leaf Tissue Damage: During hail, the photosynthetic factory of the plant (the leaves) can be significantly affected. When the leaf tissue is damaged, the leaf's ability to take in sunlight to create photosynthesis is compromised and plant experiences stress.

Repair Mode: Upon leaf tissue damage, the plant goes into "repair mode" and moves a large portion of its nutrients and various metabolites just around the damaged sites to help fortify the healthy plant tissue.

Systemic Acquired Resistance (SAR): The plant is quite smart as it will move various sugars, metabolites, and amino acids from the irreparable, damaged tissue, to the healthy part of the leaves. The goal of the plant is to limit the amount of available 'food sources' in the damaged tissue so that the various pathogens and insects cannot easily proliferate. The natural defense system of the plant is known as Systemic Acquired Resistance (SAR).

In order for a plant to actively engage Repair Mode and Systemic Acquired Resistance, it must be healthy and have a healthy and active root system.

Proactively Deal with Hail Damage

The first step in dealing with hail damage is to assess if there is enough healthy 'green' tissue to target and help fix the plant. If there is enough healthy plant tissue, timing becomes critical. The goal is to help the plant in repairing itself as quickly as possible.

At this point, there are three objectives that can be effectively handled with nutrition:

  1. Restarting Photosynthesis
  2. Driving Roots
  3. Drive Systemic Acquired Resistance (SAR)

If at this point the plant is deficiency in nutrients, and if a foliar nutrient application is delayed, the plant can prematurely switch the reproductive stage, rather than re- establishing its root system. The end result will be a significant reduction in the yield of  the crop as the plant will not be properly developed to move nutrients to the grain or pods for filling.

Making the Complex...Simple

At ATP Nutrition, our recommendation following hail damage is to apply as soon as you can get onto the field.

  • Wheat: Apply ReLeaf™ Cereal at 1 L/Ac plus 1/3 L/Ac of Kinetic Boron 
  • Canola: Apply ReLeaf™ Canola at 2 L/Ac plus 1/2 L/Ac of Kinetic Boron 
  • Pulse: Apply ReLeaf™ Pulse P at 1 L/Ac plus 1/2 L/Ac of Kinetic Boron 

This will accomplish the three objectives listed above:

  1. Restarting Photosynthesis:This is achieved through the proper balance of nutrients in each formulation.
  2. Driving Roots:This nutrient package has all of the critical nutrients to drive roots. ReLeaf is powered by the Transit­S™ technology and proprietary Biological Activators to help promote rooting.
  3. Drive Systemic Acquired Resistence (SAR): The addition of Boron not only helps with improving the integrity of the cell tissue, but also allows for proper movement of key metabolites to aid in the natural defense system of the plant.

Learn More

To learn more about moisture stress and how it can affect your crop and ensuring yield potential, please speak with one of our ATP Nutrition Technical Account Managers, by visiting the Locate a Rep section of our website.

ATP Nutrition