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Storm damages crops in Minnesota

BENSON, Minn. -- As the first big storm of the summer ripped through Minnesota on Tuesday, residents are left to pick up the pieces. The National Weather Service reported heavy rainfall and pummeling winds throughout the area, while some places a...

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Severe crop damage is a common sight in Kandiyohi and Swift counties after strong winds and hail during Tuesday's storm. At this point in the season, crops may not have time to recover. Brian Edwards / Tribune

BENSON, Minn. - As the first big storm of the summer ripped through Minnesota on Tuesday, residents are left to pick up the pieces.

The National Weather Service reported heavy rainfall and pummeling winds throughout the area, while some places also reported hail and even a tornado. Minnesotans, farmers in particular, were left Wednesday to clean up the aftermath of the punishing weather.

In Kandiyohi County, there was about a 100-square-mile area that was severely impacted by the storm, according to Wes Nelson, executive director for the United States Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County. The hardest hit areas started to the west in Raymond and moved east through Blomkest and Svea.

The timing of the storm is especially worrisome, he said, because damaged crops may not have enough time to recover and wet soils may delay replanting of any soybeans until it is too late in the season. The heavy rain may also end up promoting weed growth, which could overrun soybeans.

Tom Anderson, executive director for the Farm Service Agency in Swift County, said there was significant hail in the southern part of Benson, adding that the affected area was about five miles wide and 10 miles long.

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"Corn, soybeans, wheat and sugar beets were affected," he said. "Corn and soybeans were hit the hardest."

Luckily, however, there have not been any reports of structural damage in the area, Anderson said.

Still, farmers will be left to wonder how the storm will impact their yields, he said, because the full extent of the damage won't be known until the crops are harvested. "Some fields will have a significantly higher percentage damaged."

According to the National Weather Service, there was a tornado spotted around 3 p.m. in Appleton, while hail and heavy rain was reported in the area.

The town of Raymond spent much of the morning cleaning up fallen branches and trees which were torn down during the storm. Workers drove skid loaders, utility vehicles and even golf carts with debris-filled trailers on leaf-strewn streets as they cleaned up the city.

Outside of residential areas, many low spots in farm fields were still brimming with water Wednesday.

Both Anderson and Nelson said the rain was much needed because Kandiyohi and Swift counties were in a bit of a dry spell and farmers who were not in the harshly affected areas will benefit from the large amount of rain.

Unfortunately for the farmers in the areas hit hardest, Anderson said, "the hail came too."

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