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Hail Damage in Broadleaf Crops (06/15/17)

Hail Damage in Broadleaf Crops

Hail Damage in Broadleaf Crops

Replanting after Hail Damage

Every year hail producing thunderstorms, resulting in hail damage to crops, affect a number of producers’ fields. The northern part of the Red River Valley experienced severe hail this past weekend. This early season hail storm totally destroyed some canola, soybean, dry bean and sunflower fields in the northern growing region. In those fields replanting with the same crop using an earlier maturing variety within the next few days, is still an option. However, a lower yield potential compared to the original crop should be expected. Hail damage in the form of stand reduction, leaf loss, stem injury, damage to the growing point, and weed control options, need to be considered before making a replanting decision. Always first visit with the crop insurance agent to determine the options before making a replanting decision.

Soybean and Dry Bean

The above ground growing points of the soybean or dry bean plants are located at the top of the plant and dormant buds in the leaf axis. The tender growing points of soy and dry bean are easily damaged if hail takes place during the early growing season. Regrowth will not occur if the hail cuts the stem below the cotyledons as the lowest growing points are located in the cotyledon leaf axils. However, if the plant is not too severely damaged above the cotyledon, it is possible for the plant to regrow from the axillary buds. The plant stems may be damaged or bruised by hail stones without killing the plant. Damaged and bruised stems often weaken the plant at these spots resulting in lodging if the stem tissue cannot support the weight of the plant later in the season. Also, plant stands are often reduced due to the hail damage. Nevertheless, if there are still enough evenly distributed plants left, the crop can still produce reasonable yields with a favorable remaining growing season.


The tolerance of sunflower plant to hail depends on the intensity of the storm, hail size, and the stage of the growth. Sunflower is least tolerant to hail during the seedling and budding stage and more tolerant in the vegetative stage and after flowering. Direct damage early in the season can result in a stand loss. Indirect damage occurs from defoliation and severely bruised or broken stems. If the growing point is hit by hail and removed, sunflower plants will branch out and result in many small heads which will not contribute to yield.


Hail damage in the seedling stage of canola can reduce stands by 50 percent and still produce acceptable yields. For example, a stand of 8 to 10 plants per square foot could even be reduced to 4 plants per square foot before yield is substantially reduced assuming a growing season will favor branching, flower development, and seed fill of the crop. Prior to bolting and flower development, canola can recover from hail damage, but canola plants require a substantial amount of energy to rebuild the lost leaf area.

Hail injured canola plants in the late bolting or early flowering stages have the ability to produce additional branches and flower clusters.

Hans Kandel

Extension Agronomist Broadleaf Crops

This site is supported in part by the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program [grant no. 2017-70006-27144/accession 1013592] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the website author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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