Lodging in Cereal Crops: Part 1 – Effect on Yield

Lodging in cereal crops has become a common site in many fields across Manitoba over the past few weeks.  Lodging is often caused by weather conditions, such as rain, wind and/or hail.  However, other factors including fertility program (high nitrogen) and crop management practices (variety selection, seeding date, seeding depth, seeding rates, disease control) all can impact the crop’s susceptibility to lodging.

Effect of Lodging on Yield:

The biggest question that normally surrounds lodging is the impact on yield.  Lodging may reduce yield in a number of ways:

  • Lodging interferes with photosynthesis and carbohydrate movement in the plant, potentially impacting both number of kernels per head and individual kernel weight.
  • Foliar diseases may increase due to a more humid microclimate within the lodged crop.
  • Loss of un-threshed heads can lead to harvest losses, particularly if lodging has resulted in stem breakage.

In addition, lodging can contribute to uneven maturity and decreased harvest efficiency.  Harvest of a lodged crop takes more time and can be more difficult depending upon severity of the lodging.  Harvest efficiency may be impacted due to a reduction of travel speed and more straw entering the combine due to a lowering of the header/knives to accommodate the lodged crop.

However, the effects of lodging on final yield will depend largely on growth stage, weather conditions that occur after lodging, and of course the severity of the lodging.

Submitted by:  Pam de Rocquigny, Provincial Cereal Crops Specialist, MAFRD

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