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Published August 04, 2010, 01:10 PM

Storm damage forces Nebraska farmers into tough decisions

BEATRICE, Neb. — Should we replant or retreat to lick our wounds from the weather?

BEATRICE, Neb. — Should we replant or retreat to lick our wounds from the weather?

Experts say that’s a question farmers in Nebraska and other ag-heavy states often ask themselves when a severe storm ruins a young crop.

On June 20, for example, powerful thunderstorms rampaged through Gage, Johnson, Lan-caster and Pawnee counties in southeast Nebraska.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency said later that plants were rav-aged across 125,000 acres — mostly corn and soybeans.

The question arose for many farmers: Should we replant our corn and soybeans at this critical juncture in their growth cycles? Or should we give up for the year, use the damaged plants for silage and hope for the best from our crop insurance?

Terry Hasenkamp, manager of Crop Production Services in Beatrice, said crop insurance will help.

“But it’s like anything else: You never have enough, and you end up losing on a deal like that,” Hasenkamp told the Beatrice Daily Sun.

Timing was key, he said, as the storm date of June 20 was near the end of planting season in southeast Nebraska.

It was too late for corn, Hasenkamp said he told his customers as he suggested replanting with soybeans. Most of them did, he said.

Farmer Gary Harms said that with the help of friends and neighbors, he replanted 570 acres with soybeans. The new crop has nearly reached the height of his old crop on June 20, before it was battered by hail.

The looming question now, he said, is whether the weather will prove to be his ally.

“There’s three things that are important to raising good soybeans,” Harms said: “Rain in August, rain in August, rain in August.”