Hail Damage

From Bugwoodwiki

Terrestrial weather
Common Names

Author: Mary E. Burrows, Jeff Stein and Ned Tisserat



  • Hail can occur anytime throughout the growing season and usually strikes acrosssmall areas. One field will be affected while the neighboring fields may be left alone.

Key Symptoms

  • Large area of field with wheat plants that have damaged (sometimes shredded) leaves, broken stems, or damaged heads.
  • Hail damage at the boot stage may cause the head to be entrapped in the boot, not allowing it to emerge normally, which results in a gnarled or misshaped head.
  • Hail may cause damage to the whole head or only slight damage to areas where the hail stones struck.
  • When a hail stone hits a wheat head it can damage the spikelets and knock the grain out of the florets.
  • Hail stones can break the stems over and this usually results in shriveled kernels in these heads.


The Kind of damage and amount of loss due to hail is determined in part by the crop growth stage.

  • Before jointing, small grains are least susceptible to hail damage. The spike is still below ground and protected from injury.
  • Hail damage occurring during jointing or the boot stage is difficult to assess. Spikes can still pollinate and fill, and regrowth from new tillers can occur.
  • The greatest yield reduction from hail damage occurs in the milk stage.
  • Hail damage occurring at other growth stages from boot to ripe kernels is variable and further influenced by environmental conditions following the hail damage.

Management Approaches

Cultural management practices

  • If possible, the wheat can be baled and fed to cattle or used as bedding.
  • If hail occurs after grain fill, volunteer wheat can be a big issue in the next crop. Eliminate the green bridge by spraying herbicide and waiting at least 2 weeks before planting.

The information herein is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and that listing of commercial products, necessary to this guide, implies no endorsement by the authors or the Extension Services of Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming or Montana. Criticism of products or equipment not listed is neither implied nor intended. Due to constantly changing labels, laws and regulations, the Extension Services can assume no liability for the suggested use of chemicals contained herein. Pesticides must be applied legally complying with all label directions and precautions on the pesticide container and any supplemental labeling and rules of state and federal pesticide regulatory agencies. State rules and regulations and special pesticide use allowances may vary from state to state: contact your State Department of Agriculture for the rules, regulations and allowances applicable in your state and locality.