Look for Opportunities in Midst of Storm Damage

The June 3 storms caused wind, flooding/washing, and hail damage to crops in central and eastern Nebraska. As damage is being assessed, we've received questions including:

  • How do I know if it was a good idea to replant?
  • Should I apply a fungicide?
  • I'm concerned about Goss' wilt developing.  If it does, how do I know if a treatment for Goss' wilt made a difference?

While no one likes to see damaged fields, there is an opportunity to learn in the midst of such widespread damage. You can answer these questions for your farm and your damage situation by conducting an on-farm research experiment! That may sound like a daunting task, but it really doesn't take a whole lot more time or effort to answer these questions for yourself.

First, start with your question and determine how many items you are comparing. All of the questions above could include a check and a treatment. The "treatment" in these questions would include one fungicide product, replanting, and one specific product for Goss's wilt, respectively.  Because these questions were comparing two items, we'd recommend using the paired comparison design to answer them.

Illustration of paired comparison research design
Figure 1. Paired comparison treatment design with buffer rows.


Illustration of paired comparison harvest design
Figure 2. Harvest guide for paired comparsion research design with buffers.

To conduct this research on your farm using a paired comparison design:

  1. Determine the amount of land each treatment will require based on the size of your equipment (sprayer, planter, harvester). Every treatment in a paired comparison design needs to yield two harvest strips from it. Contact a UNL extension educator or specialist knowledgeable about on-farm research to help ensure your research design is correct.
  2. Spray a pass or round with the product (depending on sprayer size and section control) to ensure you can harvest two passes from the center of the treated area (Figure 1). If you are replanting, you would replant a pass or round so that you can harvest two strips from each replant area.
  3. Skip the same amount of distance as you previously sprayed or replanted.
  4. Repeat steps 1-2 at least three more times.  We need at least five to six replications for harvest comparisons and statistical analysis at the end of the year. If you sprayed a fungicide or product for goss's wilt, you may wish to mark a few plants in each plot and take photos throughout the growing season to determine disease pressure. In all on-farm research studies, we recommend taking harvest stand counts and stalk rot ratings prior to harvest.

At harvest be sure to make two passes from the center of each treated and untreated area, then compare the weights as shown in Figure 2. Please share all yield and other data collected with the UNL extension educator or specialist you contacted previously.

More Information

On-farm Research. For help in designing this on-farm research trial or to share results, contact any of our UNL extension educators or specialists working with on-farm research in Nebraska. UNL on-farm research information is available in the Farm Research section of CropWatch. You may also be interested in viewing our Grower's Guide to On-Farm Research.

Jenny Rees, Extension Educator
For the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network Team