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Rain-caused erosion threatens sorghum, corn

Heavy rain causes corn, sorghum beds to ‘melt away.’ Re-cover roots or replant are main options.

Heavy rain or fast-draining water has put some young corn and sorghum acres at risk by eroding soil and exposing their roots, said Jason Kelley, Extension wheat and feed grains agronomist for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

Corn and sorghum are planted in raised rows, or beds. When the heavy rain came, “essentially the beds melted away,” Kelley said. “Corn that was originally planted 2 inches deep now may have the seed sitting on the soil surface. Leaving the roots exposed and hoping for the best is not a good option.”

Because of their size and youth, the plants aren’t well-anchored and “exposed roots will not develop properly, which will lead to problems with lodging, or falling over, later in the season. Some fields have so much of the root system exposed that it is doubtful that a normal plant will develop if nothing is done.”

There are two options for the problem.

“One approach would be to cultivate to throw soil back up around the base of the plant – essentially trying to cover up the roots. This approach may work in some instances, especially if the plants are fairly large and standing.”

However, where plants are small or fallen, cultivating may not be an option.

“The grain sorghum fields that I have looked were in such bad shape that the only solution that I could see would be to replant,” Kelley said. “Several corn fields have been or will be replanted because of these problems.”

Unfortunately, there aren’t any preventative measures for this kind of erosion that followed weeks of heavy rain.

For more information on crop production contact your county Extension agent and visit or

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