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How Flooding Affects Crops

Flooding can damage businesses across the board through water damage to the structure or inventory. Farming communities may also suffer from flooding which can destroy crops, costing farmers hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost income.  The survival of the crops is dependant on temperature, stage of growth, and the length of time that the surrounding soil is saturated.

There are a few factors that will determine if corn or other crops can survive in the aftermath of the flood.

–          Crops that are completely submerged are at higher risk than those that were only partially submerged. Partially submerged plants can continue to photosynthesize in a limited capacity, which extends their survival time.

–          Prolonged saturation also increases the possibility of injury and death, since oxygen is compromised and of course any type of plant requires oxygen to survive. The warmer the temps are the faster the available oxygen is used up.

–          Healthy growing plants will be firm and white or yellow in color, while damaged or dead plants will be soft and gray or brown in color.

–          Surface crusts have also been known to form when water subsides and soil dries quickly. This obstructs the air exchange in the root system, making a full recovery unlikely.

–          Extended period of saturation may also negatively affect the vigor of the plant, with root health compromised until the soil has dried to normal levels.

–          Saturated soil conditions also promote the development of seedling diseases such as Pythium, and these will be prevalent in the most poorly drained areas of the field.

It is recommended to wait about five days after a flooding event to assess your crops, since no field work can be done until the waters recede, and it will allow certain crops such as corn to demonstrate signs of recovery.  Corn may recover with minimal impact on yield potential if the plants stay healthy and if favorable growing conditions exist.

The full extent of the damage from flooding cannot be determined until the crops have had a chance to recover to a certain degree. Knowing what factors are at work on your crops in the event of a flood will help you make the proper decisions with regard to the long term success of your crops.

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