Fall Frost Damage in Corn and Soybeans
Frost damage occurs in corn and soybeans when plants are exposed to freezing or below-freezing temperatures. Damage can occur to the plants above and below the soil when temperatures range from 28 to 32°F and colder. Corn and soybean plants exposed to air temperatures below 28°F are often lethal and prevent plants from undergoing full recovery from injuries. The key in assessing frost damage is waiting five days to allow for any potential growth recovery or rehabilitation to occur.
Fall Frost in Soybeans
Once soybeans begin maturity and already have developed pods, they are most often immune from frost injury. Soybeans placed in narrow rows can have more protection from freezing air temperatures in being covered by leaf canopies. Pods growing on the lower portion of the plant are less vulnerable to frost damage than those on the top part of the canopy. Injured soybeans exhibit elongated pods that shrink to smaller than normal sizes upon drying. Most yield loss occurs during the full seed maturity stage.
Soybeans damaged by frost should be dried at a temperature no higher than 130°F and may have lower oil content. Both frost damaged corn and soybeans may also have delayed dry down.
Fall Frost in Corn
Frost-damaged corn can exhibit softened kernels prone to breakage and should be dried at temperatures below 160°F and be stored at a moisture level no higher than 14%. The storage life for frost-damaged corn will be cut in half and damaged corn should be handled separately from uninjured corn.