Windstorm Losses

Gordon Johnson, Extension Vegetable & Fruit Specialist;

Windstorms across the state last week caused significant damage to vegetable crops. Signs of this damage included torn leaves, dessicated (wind burnt) leaves and stems, broken or lodged stems and sandblasted and sand-cut plants. Most affected were young seedlings and newly transplanted crops where windbreaks were not used.

Vegetable growers have seen a large advantage to windbreaks this year, especially when used between every row. Plantings with extensive windbreaks have much less direct wind damage to plants than fields with windbreaks only in drive rows or without windbreaks. Planning for effective windbreaks starts in summer with identifying fields for next year’s crops and planting small grains early enough in the fall to get a good stand and put on growth earlier in the spring. Rye is still the preferred windbreak because it is taller and comes to full height earlier in the spring. Barley and winter oats make much less effective windbreaks due to their shorter stature; they have been bred for shorter height to reduce lodging. Wheat and triticale are intermediate in height but reach full height later than rye. Spring oats could be used to protect plantings from sandblasting but will be less effective as a wind break for early crops because full height is not reached until late May. Sandblasting can be also be prevented by having a cover between plastic beds such as ryegrass

While earliness is not a concern for summer plantings, wind protection still may be. Crops for summer windbreaks include sudangrass, forage sorghums, sorghum/sudangrass crosses, pearl millet, foxtail millet, Japanese millet, and sunhemp.


Sorghum-Sudangrass as a summer windbreak