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Agronomic Crops Network

Ohio State University Extension


What Happened to Those Hail-Damaged Soybeans?

In July, we wrote an article reporting hail damage to soybean and corn in Preble County, Ohio ( (Figure 1). As a reminder, soybean plants were at approximately the R2 (full flower) growth stage, and corn was at late vegetative stages to early reproductive stages (R1) when the damage occurred. Soybean plants experienced approximately 90% defoliation. Unfortunately, our soybean variety test plot was damaged by this hail event. However, the uniform hail damage to our test plot gave us a unique opportunity to assess hail damage, recovery, and yield.

Hail Damaged Soybean

At the end of August, 6 weeks after the hail damage, we returned to our test plot area to assess recovery from the hail damage (Figure 2). Soybean plants were shorter than expected, but there was quite a bit of new vegetative growth; although, broken stems and scarring were still visible. Weed growth was also problematic in some areas due to loss of canopy closure after the hail event.

Hail Damaged Soybean Mid-Season

Figure 2. Soybean plants 6 weeks after hail damage showing new leaf growth and broken stems. [Photos taken on Monday, August 28 by Laura Lindsey.]

We harvested the soybean variety test plot on October 25. Although the test plot was planted timely (May 11), the hail-damaged soybean plants took longer to reach physiological maturity. The plants were shorter compared to previous years, but there were more pods per node (Figure 3). Our soybean variety test is divided into two trials early (relative maturities of 2.5-3.6) and late maturing (relative maturities of 3.7 to 4.3). Table 1 shows yield results for the early and late maturity trials that experienced hail damage in 2023 compared to the 2022 and 2021 soybean yield results from the same farm in Preble County. Average soybean yield was approximately 15 bu/acre lower for the early maturity trial and 7 bu/acre lower for the late maturity trial compared to the previous two years.

Hail Damaged Soybean Harvest

Figure 3. Soybean test plot area at harvest. Damaged plants were shorter than normal, but plants had more pods per node. [Photos taken on Wednesday, August 25 by Allen Geyer.]


Table 1. Soybean grain yield from hail-damaged soybean in 2023 compared to soybean grain yield in 2022 and 2021 at the same farm in Preble County, Ohio.


Early Maturity Trial

Late Maturity Trial

2023 (hail-damaged)

Average = 53 bu/acre

Range = 41 to 64 bu/acre

Average = 63 bu/acre

Range = 51 to 75 bu/acre

2022 (no damage)

Average = 67 bu/acre

Range = 62 to 74 bu/acre

Average = 67 bu/acre

Range = 60 to 75 bu/acre

2021 (no damage)

Average = 69 bu/acre

Range = 62 to 75 bu/acre

Average = 72 bu/acre

Range = 65 to 78 bu/acre

We hypothesize that soybean yield was greater in the late-maturity trial because the soybean plants had more time to recover from the hail damage. Additionally, in the early maturity trial, weeds were more problematic, causing large variations in yield even within the same variety. The full variety trial report for the late maturity trial is available online: The yield results for the early maturity trial were not published due to variability in yield and weed presence. While hail-damage is not ideal, soybean plants have an amazing ability to compensate for damage, especially if they have time to recover with new vegetative growth.


Crop Observation and Recommendation Network

C.O.R.N. Newsletter is a summary of crop observations, related information, and appropriate recommendations for Ohio crop producers and industry. C.O.R.N. Newsletter is produced by the Ohio State University Extension Agronomy Team, state specialists at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). C.O.R.N. Newsletter questions are directed to Extension and OARDC state specialists and associates at Ohio State.