Cooperative Extension University of Wisconsin-Extension

Issues in Agriculture

Extension Responds - Flood

With the heavy and widespread rains that have hit the state recently, Cooperative Extension faculty and staff provide information on resources to deal with flooding, damage to crops and general disaster assistance.

Following is general information about flooding, information for homes and households, food and water safety, help for farmers and archived information about previous floods.

General Flooding Information

The Disaster Handbook for Extension Agents includes a section of factsheets on drought and excessive heat. The Handbook was developed Wisconsin Cooperative Extension in 1994.

Additional resources can be found at the UW-Extension Disaster Management and Recovery website.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's Wisconsin Farm Center features a number of support services for farmers and their families.

The EDEN website provides information on drought and other disaster and security issues.

North Dakota, which has a history of flooding problems, has an excellent web site with valuable response information

Purdue University has also produced a concise flood response handout.

Kansas State University provides flood survival and recovery fact sheets.

Homes, Households and Family

NewWhether it was a few inches or a few feet, when the water recedes from your basement, you’re left with the job of assessing the damages and planning for clean-up. Here are tips for cleaning household items flooded in basements.

NewSometimes events in the world of adults can affect children, events like a terrorist attact, a tornado, or a flooded town.  But children don’t have an automatic reaction to those events.  They watch us adults to learn how to appraise the meaning of the events, and how they ought to react. Here is information about responding to scary events: teaching children through our own actions.

NewHere is information on stress and decision making, safe sheltering of your home, things caregivers should know in a disaster.

NewHere is information what to do when you enter the home for the first time after flooding.

NewHow long will trees tolerate flooding before injury results? Click here for information about understanding the effects of flooding on trees.

Food and Water Safety

NewBacteria, chemicals and other contaminants contained in floodwaters can enter the top of your well, seep down its casing, or migrate underground to your well via a neighbor’s flooded out well. Here are recommendations for private wells inundated by flooding.

NewMany food items are unsafe oncey they come in contact with flood water. If flood waters covered food stored on shelves, in cabinets, or root cellars, what should you keep and what should you throw out? Here is a guide of what food items to keep and what to discard.

Find answers to questions about the safey of consuming produce from gardens that were under water for a day or two.

USDA, CDC and other Government agencies provide information on this website.

Wisconsin provides food and safety information at this website.  

The Red Cross website can be accessed here.

Help for Farmers

NewUnprecedented rainfall continues to cause flooding and ponding leading to problems for corn establishment on 5 to 10% of planted acres in southern Wisconsin. Flooded and ponded areas have existed long enough now so that plants have been killed and areas need to be replanted. Here is information about planting corn in June and July.

NewWhat happened to herbicides applied before the rains came?  You need to know the answer if you want to replant drowned fields.

NewMany soils are saturated and some fields have had or still have standing water in all or part of the field. The million dollar question is: How much nitrogen (N) loss should I expect from denitrification or leaching and what should I do about it?

NewThe demand for crop insurance claim adjustment will be significant this month across several states in the Midwest. Time is crucial, as potential crop yields decrease each day for late planted or replanted crops. Here are practical pecommendations for farmers filing late and prevented planting or replant claims.

Recent rains have caused flooding and ponding in many cornfields. Growers are concerned about corn growth and development and any yield effects that might occur from short periods of flooding. Here is information about flooding impacts on corn growth and yield.

Severe flooding has many low-lying soybean fields underwater. As the water dissipates yield potential and replant questions will arise. Here is information to help assess flood damage to soybean.

Need information on how long soybeans will survive underwater?

Need information about replanting soybeans?

NewBecause of the heavy rains across the Midwest and all the questions they have received, the USDA-RMA has developed fact sheets and examples.  Included are new examples created for corn and soybeans to help growers understand their options.

The cool wet weather this spring delayed planting for many Wisconsin farmers and recent heavy rains only made conditions worse. As a result, farmers with crop insurance may trigger late or prevented planting coverage or may use replant provisions. These provisions only apply to those with APH or CRC coverage above catastrophic coverage. This bulletin briefly describes late and prevented planting provisions for these federally endorsed policies (not for private supplemental policies). Remember to always contact your crop insurance agent if you have questions.

Rain that occurs between the time forage is cut and harvested causes both yield and quality losses that reduce the value of the crop as an animal feed and a marketable commodity. Here is information about rain damage to forage during hay and silage making.

Fermentation analyses have long been used in university and industry research trials to assess silage quality.  These analyses are now available for evaluating silage quality on farms through commercial forage testing laboratories. Find answers to frequently asked questions about the interpretation and use of fermenation analyses reports here.

The recent heavy rainfall and flooding in parts of Wisconsin made national news, just like the flooding last August. Farmers with crop insurance will receive indemnities for their crop losses, but not all farmers have crop insurance and not all losses are to crops. This article is a quick summary of current federal assistance available from the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) for farmers affected by the recent flooding.

The heavy rains not only saturated soils in the regions, but in many cases floodwater deposited sediment on crop fields. This event brings into sight a potential for soil compaction from subsequent vehicular traffic used for agricultural operations. The following article discusses the soil compaction process and steps producers can take to limit its effects.

Many producers will be looking at whether they have a crop insurance claim. This bulletin is a quick summary of things to remember for farmers who bought crop insurance for their corn and/or soybeans.

The Farm Service Agency provides assistance for natural disaster losses, resulting from drought, flood, fire, freeze, tornadoes, pest infestation, and other calamities.


Flood 2007 Archives

In August 2007, continued rain in southern Wisconsin, meant families and farmers needed resources to deal with flooding, power outages, and general disaster assistance.

The quick transition from extremely dry to very wet conditions poses some challenges for fruit growers. Here is some information about working with these challenges.

Federal disaster assistance for vegetable growers affected by recent floods and droughts. Many conventional and organic fresh market vegetable growers were hit especially hard by recent flooding and heavy rainfall in parts of Wisconsin, while droughts have hit similar growers in other parts of Wisconsin. Given the federal disaster declaration for some Wisconsin counties, many vegetable farmers are wondering about the availability of federal assistance for their crop losses. This bulletin is a quick summary of current federal programs available for these and other farmers and some basic recommendations.


Flood 2004 Archives

In May 2004, heavy late spring rains left fields in some parts of the state underwater, delaying planting and damaging crops already in the ground. University of Wisconsin-Extension responded with assessments of the damage and advice for farmers.

Forage Emergency

Dairy farmers face a winter with short forage supplies. In a “forage emergency,” it’s important to plan now to have enough feed for the winter.

Crop Insurance

William Edwards, economist at Iowa State University , provides details about crop insurance coverage when planting is delayed: Delayed and Prevented Planting Provisions for Multiple Peril Crop Insurance (MS Word)

More information about crop insurance can be found at these two web sites:

Additional information

Did recent heavy rains damage your fields and recently planted crops?
Wisconsin's Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection encourages farmers to participate in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) to reduce runoff damage and improve water quality. Read the news release.

What do you do if standing water has damaged alfalfa that was cut and left in the field?
UW-Extension forage specialists Dennis Cosgrove and Dan Undersander explain how to assess the damage and how to handle the material.
Harvesting Wet Alfalfa Fields (PDF)

Here's how to evaluate the condition of flooded alfalfa crops.
Evaluating Alfalfa Stands for Water Damage (PDF)

The recent "monsoon season" will affect the weeds we see on the landscape.
Weeds of Wet Weather (PDF)
Jerry Doll, UW-Extension Weed Scientist

What happened to herbicides applied before the rains came?  You need to know the answer if you want to replant drowned fields.
Herbicides, Rain and Replanting (PDF)
Chris Boerboom, UW-Extension Weed Scientist

If floodwaters invaded homes and offices, it can be difficult to figure out what can be salvaged. This PowerPoint provides a set of "decision trees" for making these decisions.  Marilyn Herman, now family living educator for UW-Extension in Waupaca County, developed this resource while working for Extension in Minnesota.
Flood Damage

If flooding has delayed corn planting, farmers may be thinking of planting soybeans instead this year.  Here's the rundown on when to make that decision.
When Could Grain Farmers Switch Fields from Corn to Soybean? (PDF)
Joe Lauer, UW-Extension Corn Agronomist

Agricultural economist, Bruce Jones, created a spreadsheet to help farmers figure on the economics of the decision about planting corn late or switching to soybeans.
Corn Yield Needed on Re-Planted Acres to Achieve Returns Equal to an Alternative Crop

How to assess the damage to young crops now and what to look for later in the season if the flooded crop survives:
Flooding Impacts on Corn Growth and Yield (PDF)
Joe Lauer, UW-Extension Corn Agronomist

Whether you are replanting or late planting, here are guidelines for making management decisions:
Things to Consider for Late- or Re-Planting Corn (PDF)
Joe Lauer, UW-Extension Corn Agronomist

Did the rains wash or leach nitrogen from the soil? Here's how to determine if you need to apply additional nitrogen:
Evaluating Nitrogen Losses Following Excessive Rainfall (PDF)
Larry G. Bundy, UW-Extension Soil Scientist

Soybean farmers have lots of questions when wet fields delay planting or damage crops already in the ground.  Here are some answers from:
Soybean management and excess soil moisture (PDF)
Roger Borges, Extension Soybean and Small Grain Specialist