AUBURN, Ala.— Flooding causes destruction where ever it occurs. Often homes and businesses take the brunt of flood damage. Field and garden flood recovery are equally important in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
If your backyard garden was in a flooded area, chances are it lost some nitrogen and will need refertilization. It is important to wait several days before preparing a garden for planting. Avoid tilling or cultivation while the soil is still fairly wet.
Flood Recovery in Gardens
Transplants and seeds in a flooded garden likely rotted in the ground and will need to be replanted. Plants under stress from excess rain and flooding are more susceptible to disease. Avoid working with plants when they are wet. If plants with disease are discovered, remove and destroy them to avoid infecting other plants.
Plants in standing water for long periods of time, also known as “wet feet,” will result in stunting of plants, and yield and quality reduction.
Wet feet is a condition more severe in young plants or seedlings. Older, more established plants may be more tolerant of damage due to flooding. Plants will grow again if they were not too severely damaged, but will likely be stunted with a yellow appearance. After a flood, it is best to remove all fruits and flowers from the plant to encourage vegetative growth. This should help offset negative effects of flooding on the plant.
Damage can never be fully reversed. Plant roots absorb oxygen from the soil. Roots are unable to absorb oxygen and minerals when soils are flooded.
Flood Recovery in Fields
While flooding may cause soil fertility issues, one of the most prominent issues during a flood is soil erosion. Erosion control techniques used before the flood may not withstand floodwaters, but there are options for field recovery after the flood.
Surface-soil erosion causes soils to lose plant nutrients, lime and organic matter. The loss of nutrient-rich top soil may cause low production and increased fertilizer costs.
The best conservation practices are no match for flooded fields. Repeat soil sampling in flooded fields and follow recommendations to restore productivity.
Farmers should implement soil erosion prevention practices if they are not already in use, and repair soil conservation structures that were damaged.
The Emergency Handbook brings together recommendations from national emergency response agencies and major universities into one easy-to-understand, interactive reference. It also addresses nearly 50 disaster preparation and recovery topics in four broad categories, including: People and Pets, Home and Business, Landscape and Garden, and Farms and Livestock.
For more information on field and garden flood recovery, visit www.aces.edu. The Emergency Handbook iBook is available in pdf form and on iTunes. Contact your local Extension office for more information.