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Published June 18, 2014, 09:47 AM

Hail, rain pummels fields in southwest Minn.

Like many farmers with crops under water or obliterated by hail, Harley Buys of rural Edgerton, Minn., is in limbo. “Everything we farm is gone,” he said Tuesday afternoon, 24 hours after a 6-inch rain and a 45-minute hail storm pummeled his fields between Edgerton and Leota. “We’ve still got banks of corn stalks and hail three feet deep. Hail’s still laying in the ditches, too.”

By: Julie Buntjer , Forum News Service

LEOTA, Minn. — Like many farmers with crops under water or obliterated by hail, Harley Buys of rural Edgerton, Minn., is in limbo.

“Everything we farm is gone,” he said Tuesday afternoon, 24 hours after a 6-inch rain and a 45-minute hail storm pummeled his fields between Edgerton and Leota. “We’ve still got banks of corn stalks and hail three feet deep. Hail’s still laying in the ditches, too.”

Buys farms 1,100 acres — 600 planted to corn earlier this spring and 500 in soybeans — and he anticipates all of it is lost.

“We’re waiting for the crop adjuster,” he said. “They want to wait two or three days, when it warms up, to see whether it’s going to come back or not.”

Monday’s storm added insult to injury for an area of southwest Minnesota already suffering. Between Monday’s deluge and last weekend’s storms, Buys said there was 12 inches of rain in all.

Tuesday afternoon, with cattle still out of their pastures because of flood waters and downed fences, he and his wife were working on a higher priority — putting Shop Vacs to work in the basement of their home where the sewer had backed up. They also have broken windows in their home and down at their family’s milking parlor from the hail.

“At our place, it wasn’t real huge — it was just so terrible fast,” Buys said. “East of Leota it was, for sure, golf-ball-sized hail.”

Buys has already learned that he could collect $34 per acre from crop insurance if he wants to replant his beans, and the same if he plans to replant corn.

“We need a lot of corn for silage,” he said, adding that he’s already been on the phone with seed dealers to get 75- or 80-day corn.

“They will be able to get seed, but there’s not a lot,” he added. “The early corn, that will work for silage, as long as we don’t get any more rain and can get it planted.”

Despite the damage to his corn and soybean fields, Buys said his pastures took the greatest hit. Several areas are still under water.

“We spent Sunday rounding up cattle,” said Buys, adding that it’s now necessary to do that again.

Gene Stoel, a farmer from rural Lake Wilson, Minn., and a crop insurance agent, said Tuesday he’s been on the phone more than he’s been off it as farmers call in with questions and concerns about their 2014 crops.

“The stuff that’s not under water doesn’t look too bad, but there’s a lot of water around,” he said of farm fields in the Lake Wilson area. “South of Chandler, it looks really tough.

“The water is receding where it can get away, but the tile lines just aren’t big enough to handle all this water,” he added.

Stoel reported more than 9 inches of rainfall at his place between Saturday and Monday.

“A lot of township roads have been affected pretty severely,” he said. “There’s gullies through the fields.”

Like much of southwest Minnesota, Stoel said it was dry up until a couple of weeks ago.

“I think the drought is over,” he surmised. “It would have been nice to spread it out through the summer, but sometimes this is what you get.”

Stoel anticipates some of the farmers in his area will try to replant corn for silage, and more will try to get in soybeans. July 1 is typically the cut-off, he added.

Liz Stahl, University of Minnesota Extension Crops Educator at Worthington, advises farmers to keep in touch with their crop insurance adviser and assess their crop stand in the coming days.

“Corn, if the growing point is still beneath the ground, shouldn’t be a total loss,” she said. “We really have to take a look at the viability of the stand.”

While Stahl said June 10 is typically the cut-off date for replanting corn for grain, farmers who feed silage might still consider corn replanting as an option.

With the popularity of pre-emergence herbicides these days, Stahl said planting soybeans in a field that had been planted to corn earlier this year likely won’t be an option.

“A lot of those products have residual — you don’t want to plant crops in there,” she said. “Don’t ignore crop rotations or crop interval restrictions.”

As for crops under water, Stahl said if corn is under water for 48 hours or less, chances are pretty good the crop will survive. The further along the crop, the better chance it has for survival as well, she added.

“In three to five days, you should see some new growth on plants,” she said. “If not, that’s a red flag that it’s not going good. You basically have to play a waiting game.”

Soybeans can withstand flooding better than corn — perhaps up to four or six days under water, Stahl said, but cautions that decreased yield will likely occur.

U of M Extension offers numerous resources for farmers and property owners about crops and flooding. Visit www.extension.umn.edu/crops or www.extension.umn.edu/flood for more information.

Rock Rapids, Iowa, was hit heavily by Monday evening’s storm and the situation remained “desperate” Tuesday afternoon, according to a dispatcher at the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office.

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