Assessing flood damage in pickles

Wait until the ground has dried before making stand counts.

Two nights and two days running four pumps in Essexville, Michigan. Ditches filled and drainage backed up into some fields. Photo by Ben Phillips, MSU Extension.

Two nights and two days running four pumps in Essexville, Michigan. Ditches filled and drainage backed up into some fields. Photo by Ben Phillips, MSU Extension.

Growers north of M-46, south of Gladwin, Michigan, and east of US-127 to the Bay received excessive rainfall over the last seven days. Michigan State University Enviroweather stations accumulated between 1.39 (Ithaca) and 6 inches (Linwood) between June 19 and June 26, 2017, but growers have reported much higher accumulations, reaching 11 inches in Merrill, Michigan, and 8 inches in Essexville, Michigan, and Gladwin, Michigan. 

Pickles outside of low spots with one to two true leaves stand a good chance of coming through with just one day of submersion and mild temperatures. Recently, seeded fields are more likely to experience loss from seeds being physically removed by water and rotting.

High temperatures increases respiration of submerged plants and kills them because of the lack of air exchange under water. Root rots may settle in with extended soil saturation. In particular, planted fields with previous phytophthora outbreaks may be at risk of developing symptoms.

Accurate estimates of damage are not available at this time as many fields are still too wet for stand counts. When fields dry out, growers can make stand counts using Table 1 or Table 2 below.

Moving forward, processors are communicating with growers with revised planting schedules, and harvests extending past Labor Day, Sept. 4, are within the realm of possibility this year.

Table 1. Length of row required to equal 1/1,000 of an acre.

Row width (in inches)

Length of a single row to equal 1/1,000 of an acre


34 feet and 10 inches


26 feet and 2 inches


23 feet and 8 inches


18 feet and 8 inches


17 feet and 5 inches

To use the information in Table 1 to estimate the number of plants per acre in 30-inch rows, count the number of plants in 17 feet 5 inches of row at 10 random locations in the field. Simply multiply the average count for the 10 locations by 1,000 to get plants per acre.

For example, if the average count in the sampled rows was 45, the population would be 45,000 emerged plants per acre.

Table 2. Converting hula hoop plant counts to plants per acre.

Inside diameter of hula hoop (inches)

Conversion factor (multiply the number of plants within the hoop by the appropriate factor to calculate plants per acre)











To use the hula hoop method, toss the hoop in 10 random locations in the field and record the number of emerged plants within the hoop at each location. Calculate the average and multiply it by the appropriate conversion factor for the diameter of the hoop you are using.

For example, if the diameter of the hoop is 30 inches and the average number of emerged plants is 6, the population is 53,244 emerged plants per acre (6 x 8,874). If the diameter of your hula hoop is not listed in Table 2, you can calculate the conversion factor with the following equation:

Conversion factor = 43,560 ÷ [3.14 x (the inside hoop diameter in inches ÷ 2)2 ÷144]

For more information on storm-damaged crops from MSU Extension, see:

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