Farming after the Flood

Repairing Flood-Damaged FieldsLessons learned from the 2011 Missouri River flood in Nebraska and Iowa offer valuable information for growers initiating recovery measures for the 2019 flood.

Options for Removing Sand Deposited by Floods.The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality offers several options for sand removal, one of which requires US Army Corps approval.

Options for Managing Loose Cornstalks. When flood waters receded in farm areas, loose cornstalks were left everywhere. Consider which of these management options might work best for your operation and conditions.

Flood Damage and Prevented Planting. This year some farms may qualify for crop insurance prevented planting payments due to flood damage. Here are planting dates for RMA coverage, as well as some unknowns and considerations as you assess the damage to your property.

Funds Available to Plant Severely Weather-Damaged Acres to Cover Crops. To help manage cropland damaged by Nebraska’s severe spring weather, NRCS is providing funds to plant cover crops on cropland acres. Cover crops prevent erosion, improve soil’s physical and biological properties, supply nutrients, and suppress weeds.

Management Recommendations for Irrigation Equipment Affected by Flooding. As waters drain and soils dry out, part of the recovery process will include checking irrigation systems for damage and performing maintenance/repair before those systems can be used. Here's what to check in your power unit, irrigation well, and center pivot.

Flooding and Stored Grain. This Iowa State University Extension resource offers recommendations for salvaging as much quality stored grain as possible and how to dispose of contaminated grain.

Grain Vacuum Services/Rentals/SuppliersKey points for managing stored grain that may have been contaminated by flood waters and a list of businesses providing grain vacuuming services or equipment to safely remove clean, unaffected grain from a bin.

Wait For Better Conditions Before Heading Out On Wet Soils. If you're putting a log chain or tow strap in the tractor cab just in case you get stuck, even you know it’s too wet. Waiting a day or two for the soil to dry out some will provide better soil conditions for planting and stand establishment.

Addressing Harvest Ruts and Erosion Gullies.With the wet spring, producers need to evaluate soil moisture conditions before heading to their fields to clean up flood debris and fill in ruts, rills, and gullies.

Should Leases be Adjusted for Flood-Damaged Farm Ground? This article provides guidance on adjusting rental rates for flood-damaged cropland with different lease characteristics, including having that important landlord-tenant discussion this spring before planting.

Forages & Pastures After the Flood

Reclaiming Flood-damaged Pastures and Forage Production. UNL Extension provides thoughts on what to expect and how to manage pastures that were flooded in the March 2019 event.

Pastures Flooded with Potentially Contaminated Water: Is it safe? It is recommended that producers sample any standing water in pasture a couple weeks before they want to turn out to ensure that it is safe for livestock. This article provides information on why, how, and where to send water samples.

Growing Annual Forages to Replace Flood Losses. Five video presentations address seed selection and production of annual forages that might be used to replace hay and pasture lost to the flood. Topics include successful forage production, nutrient value of the feed, and related government programs.

Recovering Flooded Pastures. Recommendations for recovering a flooded pasture and making it viable again.

Thickening Alfalfa With Spring Cereals. Have a tough winter and recent disasters left your alfalfa hay stand a little wanting? Consider boosting hay yields by drilling in oats, spring triticale or spring barley now.

Adjusting Pasture and Hay Ground Leases for 2019. Where there is significant flood damage to pastures, hayland, or alfalfa, should the rental rate be adjusted for 2019? This article provides guidance on adjusting rental rates, depending on individual circumstances.

Climate Factors

Nebraska's Most Challenging 60 Days. Here's how a succession of weather events over 60 days, from mid-January to mid-March, led to an historic blizzard and flood in Nebraska.

March Climate Update Reveals 'Why' Behind Historic Flood. Nebraska's historic flooding in March was the result of more than just the “bomb” cyclone; rather, the long, cold winter played a huge role. Read more about how the climatic stream of events led to the catastrophe that followed in this month’s Climate Update.

Initial Recovery

Returning to the Farm after a Flood. Disaster recovery can be as dangerous as the disaster itself, especially on farms and ranches where machinery and equipment, livestock, and agricultural chemicals are displaced and co-mingled. Recommendations from eXtension.org.

Salvaging Flood-Damaged Agricultural Buildings and Farmstead Considerations. How to assess flood damage to the interior and exterior of farm buildings, including what to look for now and what could weaken the structure or cause health concerns later.

CropWatch.unl.edu is a central resource for Nebraska Extension information on crop production and pest management, including flood and storm damage information when the need arises. See CropWatch.unl.edu/tags/flooding for the most recent articles.

Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality Flood Resources, including 

Pesticide Safety. Pesticides pose a special concern during floods. Learn how to protect your farm and what to do in case of problems:

USDA Disaster Programs

Q&A on Farm Service Agency (FSA) Flood Response Programs in Nebraska (5/2/19).

FSA Disaster Set-Aside Program

When Farm Service Agency (FSA) borrowers located in designated disaster areas or contiguous (adjoining) counties are unable to make their scheduled payment on any FSA debt, FSA is authorized to consider seta side of one payment to allow the operation to continue. This program is authorized under Section 331A of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act.

Designation and Notification. The first time in a calendar year that a county in which a borrower farms, or a contiguous county, is designated as a disaster area by the president or secretary of agriculture, farmers indebted to FSA will be notified of the availability of the Disaster Set-Aside Program (DSA).

Application. Borrowers have eight months from the date of designation to apply. Please see this FSA Factsheet for information on completing a DSA application.

RMA Prevent Planting Insurance Provision

Prevented planting is the failure to plant an insured crop with the proper equipment by the final planting date or during the late planting period. You must be prevented from planting by an insured cause of loss that is general to the surrounding area and that prevents other producers from planting acreage with similar characteristics.

  • Final planting dates and late planting periods vary by crop and by area.

FSA Emergency Farm Loans

Emergency loan funds may be used to:

  • restore or replace essential property;
  • pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year;
  • pay essential family living expenses;
  • reorganize the farming operation; and
  • refinance certain debts.

Eligibility. Please see these FSA resources for further information on qualifications for these loans.

Additional Resources

USDA Farm Service Agency programs are available to assist with the impact and recovery from the floods. including the

Post-Flood Information for Planted Fields

When heavy rains lead to flooding and standing water in fields, these resources can aid in assessment of crop damage and help inform important decision-making for the remainder of the season.

Alfalfa Killed by Floods or Winter Conditions. Alfalfa that went into winter in good shape may tolerate up to a couple weeks of flooding; however, it will have a difficult time emerging through more than two inches of sediment.

Flooding and Ponding in Corn. Ponding or flooding of fields affects corn differently at different stages, depending on the duration of flooding and other factors. Growers should assess the potential for nitrogen loss and increase scouting for corn disease in these fields.

Flooding and Ponding in Soybeans. Soybean plants are generally able to withstand a fair amount of flooding in the short term; however, diseases favored by wet conditions may become a problem for the rest of the season. Research shows the length of time the soil is wet and the type of soil will affect plant injury and survival

Flood Recovery Checklists for Farmsteads (NDSU). North Dakota State University Flood Information

Floods and Your Crops — Iowa State University Center for Food Security & Public Health

Floods and Your Farm — Iowa State University Center for Food Security & Public Health

ISU and UNL Fact Sheets on Post-Flood Cropland

(Developed in response to the 2011 Missiouri River flood.)