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Responding to Hailstorms

Crystal Stewart-Courtens, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

June 26, 2013

Responding to Hailstorms
Preparing for hail: There are some normal maintenance activities that will also benefit your plants in the event of a hailstorm. The use of rowcovers may help to diffuse the impact of hailstones and reduce injury to plants, especially when using rowcover and hoops. When deciding how long to leave those covers on, or whether to put them on your later plantings, this is a factor to consider. However, we have also seen rowcovers completely removed by the high winds that can precede hail, so this is certainly not a fail-safe.
The second precaution which will help in the event of hail is the application of a preventative fungicide such as copper or chlorothalonil. Although these products are not rain-fast, we have found that they still help reduce incidence of fungal and bacterial infections from hailstorms.

After hail: The damage left by hail varies tremendously based on the size and shape of the hailstone, the wind velocity of the storm, and the duration of the hail event. Deciding how to respond is really case-by-case. Two farms right next to each other can experience very different levels of damage. However, there are some rules of thumb that generally hold true.

1) Cucurbits are going to look really bad but are likely to recover. Those huge leaves tend to tatter very dramatically during hail, and can look absolutely awful. However, the leaves can also help to protect the growing points, which largely determine whether a plant will recover or not. Generally cucurbits that are old enough to have an established root system and have intact growing points will be able to generate new leaves very quickly and will begin producing fruit within a couple of weeks. To facilitate this process, give some extra nitrogen through the drip system.  Pick and remove summer squash fruit that were damaged by hail if you can.

2) All plants will benefit from a protective fungicide application. After hail, plants have hundreds of small (or large) wounds which leave them extremely vulnerable to diseases. As soon as you can get on the field, apply a protectant such as copper or chlorothalonil (copper will protect from bacterial and fungal diseases so is the better option), even if you applied one before the storm. This will help prevent infection while the plant heals up those wounds.

3) Incidence of bacterial rot in onions is going to increase. We tend to see many more issues with onion storage following hail. Copper may help somewhat, but results have been mixed to poor. 

Deciding what to do with tomatoes can be tricky. According to Dr. Reiners, determinate varieties suffering from moderate to severe damage (think of snapped branches and stripped leaves-Image 1) are most likely to be lost causes because by the time they recover they will practically be at the end of their lives. It is best to pull plants at this threshold out. Indeterminate tomatoes have a better chance of recovering from hail. All fruit which was hit will be relegated to seconds at the very best. Damage can vary greatly by variety because of the differences in canopy cover, so assess each separately. Last year we saw Primo Reds that were a complete loss next to Amish Paste tomatoes which were about 80% ok.

On plants with heavy foliage such as corn and sweet potatoes, a foliar feeding including nitrogen and some micronutrients may be beneficial. Remember that you have to have intact foliage to spray for this to be effective.

Once you have done everything you can to clean up and protect your plants, it is often best from a mental health standpoint to walk away for a few days up to a week. There is a small period of time where this is nothing more to do but let the plants recover. Nice time for a mini vacation. Really.

As always, if you would like help deciding what to do after hail or any other weather event, please give us a call.

 



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Upcoming Events

Precision Agriculture Workshop VIRTUAL SERIES

January 21, 2021
February 4, 2021
February 18, 2021

Farmers and anyone interested in learning more about precision agriculture and how it can be implemented on the farm is invited to attend a 3-part virtual series. The series will feature Dr. Ali Nafchi, Precision Agriculture Specialist with CCE's NWNY Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team and the Cornell Vegetable Program. Topics will begin with an introduction to precision agriculture and why any producer of an agricultural product should be interested in precision agriculture. 

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Remote GAPs Training and Farm Food Safety Plan Writing Session

January 27 - January 28, 2021

Join Cornell Cooperative Extension on January 27th for a remote GAPs training. Instructors will walk growers through how to conduct a risk assessment on their farm utilizing the seven areas of farm food safety. Participants will gain hands-on experience in creating a traceability system for their farm, as well as learn about packing house design with food safety principles guiding placement of equipment and suggested materials. Students will also learn about how to train their employees related to food safety and understand what they will need to implement on their farm in order to pass a third-party food safety audit, such as GAPs. 

On January 28th growers can join us for a day focused on writing their farm food safety plan. Trainers will be joined by NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets Farm Products inspectors to give guidance and input for farms in creating their farm food safety plans to meet the needs for a potential audit. At the conclusion of day two growers will have all components of their farm food safety plans outlined with the most critical pieces.

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Announcements

2020 Year in Review Report Released

What a year! The CCE Cornell Vegetable Program adapted our methods of reaching local farmers to continue to support them through the pandemic.

Our gratitude goes to the many farms and organizations that offered us land, labor, supplies, and generous financial contributions to support our work. We appreciate the continued support we receive from Cornell faculty. And finally, we want to thank the 14 Cooperative Extension Associations that partnered with us in 2020.

Our 2020 Year in Review report highlights some of our research and educational projects:
  • Storage Crop Facility Schools
  • Helping the New York Processing Vegetable Industry Stay Competitive
  • Supporting New York's Essential Produce Auctions During COVID-19: Unexpected Impacts on the Food System Spurs Greater Grower Reliance on Cornell Cooperative Extension Agriculture Specialists
  • Despite Pandemic, Farm Food Safety Remains in the Forefront
  • Almost There! The Eastern Broccoli Project is Close to Reaching Its $100 Million Goal
  • Mentoring the Next Generation to Work in Agriculture and Extension: Cornell Summer Intern Learns Valuable Lessons from the Cornell Vegetable Program
  • Onion Growers Adopt New Recommendations for Fungicide Resistance
  • New Partnership Supports Agricultural Entrepreneurship in New American Communities
Take a look inside the CCE Cornell Vegetable Program 2020 Year in Review!


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