Hail damage to soybean crops

Assessing hail damage and making replant decisions can be difficult, with many variables to consider as you decide whether to replant or maintain the existing stand.

How hail impacts yield depends when the damage occurs and its severity: May (emerging soybeans), June (seedlings) or July (mid- to late vegetative and reproductive stages).

Emerging soybean: May

While soybean is quite resistant to hail damage throughout much of its development, newly emerged soybeans are extremely sensitive to hail. This is especially true with just-emerging plants.

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Seedling: June

Survivability of soybean plants

field with bare soil and small plants.
Hail-damaged soybean in Kandiyohi County, MN, June 11, 2017.

Hail-damaged soybean in Kandiyohi County, June 11, 2017. Photo: Wes Nelson, U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA).

Soybean plants with significant amounts of remaining green tissue (more than one green cotyledon and/or remaining leaf tissue) are likely to survive early-season hail damage. This is because they can regrow from axillary buds located at the juncture of the stem and leaves.

Soybean plants cut below the cotyledons or entirely stripped of leaf tissue will not recover. Similarly, larger plants with a small amount of remaining green leaf material are likely to recover, but expect slow regrowth. Remaining stands will be set back.

Soybean plants with significant stem bruising may recover, but will be more susceptible to lodging late in the season.

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4- to 6-leaf stage/R1: July

The yield potential of hail-damaged crops largely depends on the remaining plant population, the type and severity of damage and the growth stage when damaged.

Soybean crops have an amazing ability to respond to leaf loss from hail events. Plants with any remaining green leaf tissue will develop new leaves from existing leaf axils.

Soybeans can be nearly 100 percent defoliated at the V6 to R1 stages and still produce 80 to 90 percent of their yield potential.

Plants cut below the cotyledons or entirely stripped of leaf tissue will not recover. Plants with severe stem bruising are unlikely to produce a harvestable yield. If they can produce seed, they’re likely to fall over late in the season. Reduced stands can amplify the losses from leaf area alone.

corn field with plants bent near the ground.
Hail-damaged corn in Kandiyohi County, MN, on July 6, 2016.
soybean crop with shredded leaves caused by hail.
Hail-damaged soybean in Kandiyohi County, MN on July 6, 2016.

Estimating soybean yield loss

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Replanting considerations

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Managing damaged fields

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Jeff Coulter, Extension agronomist; Seth L. Naeve, Extension agronomist and Dave Nicolai, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2018

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