Swath timing for hailed crops

Hail damage can cause crops to mature unevenly. Judging when to swath multi-stage crops can be tricky. If the field has distinct late and early parts, the two parts could be swathed at different times. If not, then make the swath decision based on which plants are likely to contribute most to yield.

Be realistic based on the calendar date. If part of the field is at 50-60% seed color change while another hail damaged part of the field is still flowering, the swathing decision should perhaps be based on what’s best for the plants that are mature. There is no perfect time to swath these uneven crops, so the decision is based on the best time for the majority of the plants in the field with the least negative impact possible on the rest — the biggest yield with the least losses. Note that waiting, if the calendar allows, is often positive for yield.

If late season hail damages pods, then these pods have a higher potential for shattering as they dry. Swathing early to save these pods may not be worthwhile if these pods represent only a small percentage of the yield potential of the crop.