Iowa farmers will soon head out to plant their fields, and many will be thinking about the derecho that swept across the state last August.
The powerful winds flattened corn, and farmers were unable to harvest hundreds of thousands of acres. Iowa State University extension agronomist Mark Licht says the downed corn left ears and kernels on or near the soils’ surface and some will produce so-called “volunteer corn.”
Licht says, “For all practical purposes, we consider them a weed because they are taking water, they’re taking nutrients away from the intended corn or the intended soybean crop.”
He expects farmers in many derecho-affected areas where corn was planted will be switching to soybeans this spring. That’s because the herbicides farmers will use to kill that unproductive volunteer corn won’t kill the soybeans.
Licht says, “Our thought process is, if we can move those acres where we have a lot of grain on the ground in soybeans, overall, it’s just going to be easier to manage that volunteer corn crop and have minimal impact on soybeans.”
The August 10th derecho was the most damaging thunderstorm in United States’ history, causing more than 13-billion dollars damage, most of it in the state of Iowa.
(By Katie Peikes, Iowa Public Radio)