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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

Vegetable Pest and Cultural Management Field Meetings for Auction Growers

Event Offers DEC Credits

July 12, 2024 : Yates County
Himrod, NY

A hands-on demonstration of weed, insect and disease identification in vegetables including management options such as inter-row cover crops, grafting and where appropriate, spray options will be used to educate growers. Details on each topic will focus on field observations at the farm. 1.75 DEC credits in categories 10, 1a, 23, and 24.


Event Offers DEC Credits

July 16, 2024 : Ontario County
Stanley, NY

A hands-on demonstration of weed, insect and disease identification in vegetables including management options such as inter-row cover crops, grafting and where appropriate, spray options will be used to educate growers. Details on each topic will focus on field observations at the farm. 1.75 DEC credits in categories 10, 1a, 23, and 24.


Event Offers DEC Credits

July 24, 2024 : Seneca County
Romulus, NY

A hands-on demonstration of weed, insect and disease identification in vegetables including management options such as inter-row cover crops, grafting and where appropriate, spray options will be used to educate growers. Details on each topic will focus on field observations at the farm. 1.75 DEC credits in categories 10, 1a, 23, and 24.

View Vegetable Pest and Cultural Management Field Meetings for Auction Growers Details

Lake Erie Region Vegetable Meeting

Event Offers DEC Credits

July 25, 2024
Dunkirk, NY

We'll take a look at sprayers, pepper anthracnose, and walk the fields discussing other crop production issues. 2.0 DEC credits in categories 1a, 10, and 23.

View Lake Erie Region Vegetable Meeting Details

Niagara Region Vegetable Meeting

Event Offers DEC Credits

August 14, 2024
Clarence Center, NY

We'll start this meeting off at Root Down Farm to hear late season disease management updates in peppers and cole crops, plus current best management practices to limit fungicide resistance. Potato variety recommendations and disease control questions in potatoes will be addressed. 

Then we'll head to Kreher's beet field to view and discuss alternative weed control technologies. The beet field is an on-farm demonstration of various flame weeding protocols in comparison with stacked tool cultivation equipment. One or two weeding robots will be on-hand for live demonstrations and discussion of the technology's current abilities and future potential. We'll also cover industry updates and a review of late summer disease management in squash. 

2.0 DEC credits will be available in categories 23, 1a, and 10.

View Niagara Region Vegetable Meeting Details

Announcements

New Onion Resources Available

Attention onion growers! We've posted several new resources on the ONION page
  • 2024 Onion Fungicide "Cheat Sheet" for Control of Leaf Diseases
  • Know the Difference: Botrytis Leaf Blight Halo Lesions vs BLB Necrotic Spots
  • Scouting for Botrytis Leaf Blight Halo Lesions
  • Video: How to Identify Foliar Symptoms of Bacterial Disease in Onion
  • A New Pest for the New Year in WNY: Allium Leafminer is Here to Stay
  • Scouting Tips for Onion Thrips in Onions


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