Wind blows out seeds and seedlings

May 23, 2013 - Issue 8

High winds can blow seeds and seedlings right out of the ground, especially if topsoil is dry.

If the field is not seeded: Growers may want to seed a little deeper if wind at seeding is likely to blow the topsoil off a shallower furrow. Direct seeding in this situation is preferable. Deeper seeding at this calendar date may also be preferable if the top 1″ is dry. (See the article on seeding depth in this issue.)

If the field is seeded: Wind can blast the growing point off emerged seedlings. These seedlings will die. Wind can also blow topsoil off knolls, taking seed with it. This moving soil can also bury other seedlings. A grower may opt to reseed bare patches or leave them fallow. If reseeding, note that knoll tops always mature earlier and may catch up to the rest of the crop, especially if seeded to an earlier maturing variety.

Check the field closely. How much of the field is lost? Some seeds may still be in the soil, and for seedlings sheared off, there may be some later emerging seeds that could fill in the stand and provide reasonable yield potential. Yield may not be ideal but the potential is perhaps better than a reseeded crop.

In 2012, wind damage to seedlings was fairly common in Manitoba. Manitoba Agriculture’s Anastasia Kubinec made this observation in the Carman area: “We took some measurement where soil had covered cotyledons by 0.5, 1, 2 and 3 inches. Recovery of cotyledons buried under half an inch of soil was 90-100%. Under 1 inch, recovery was 50-75%. Under 2 inches it was 25%, and under 3 inches it was 0%. When that happened though it was dry, dry, dry and plants dried up under the soil.”

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