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The Cropwalker - Special Edition on Frozen Crops

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Frozen corn, soybeans, and wheat from my records here are other dates where we experienced frosted corn; May 14, 2001, May 22, 2002, May 25, 2006, May 20, 2009, May 15, 2015. There was one event of frost on June 21st in the 80’s. I remember the fields but not the year. This event covered various areas of Ontario and probably parts of fields in a larger part of Ontario. Corn at the 3-leaf stage will grow back. Corn at the 5-leaf stage is probably alive but you have to watch if the leaves that are frozen fold over the whorl and do not allow the corn leaves to expand. You can try various things such as rotary hoe or aggressive harrowing to try and get the leaves to unfurl. Corn at the 6-7 leaf stage may not make it. Key is to check all fields, especially low-lying areas whether around the outside or middle of the field. Sometimes knolls will also be hit. A number of fields have sun burnt leaves which appear grey-white. Frozen leaves will appear dark brown to black once the sun hits them.

Picture 1 - Sunburnt Corn Leaves
Figure 2 - Sunburnt Corn Leaves
Figure 3 - 2006 Corn Hit by Frost and Recovered

Soybeans fields that have a lot of trash, i.e., no till, will have more damage. Fields that were in corn last year and had aggressive row cleaners, strip till, or some conventional tillage are not as frozen. Plants that are just emerging should be ok. Check the growing point. You can have plants that have the cotyledon leaves frozen, but growing point is alive.

Figure 4 - Expect these Soybeans to Survive

Wheat There are lots of fields that had frost on the heads as they were emerging. The book says these may be at risk. BUT the years mentioned above when we had frozen corn, the wheat was not affected. Even the year when we had frozen corn on June 20.

Figure 5 - Frost on Wheat Wheat

When checking fields for alive plants mark an area in the field with flags or stones and go to the same spot each time you revisit the field. After marking with flags, you could also mark the location with John Deere Operations Centre or Climate FieldView using Pins. This makes it easier to for other people to find the affect plants if you want to share the location. (Patrick Lynch)