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Storms and lack of rain affecting crops

By Staff | Jul 21, 2017

Golf ball-sized hail and strong winds came through areas in Hancock County in the early morning hours of July 10. Several thousand acres were affected, with some fields being completely wiped out, such as this corn field located near Klemme.



KLEMME – Several thousand acres in Hancock County were hit with a large wind and hail event during the early morning hours of July 10.

While those producers are dealing with a devastating blow due to that storm, many producers throughout the state are also dealing with some potential crop damage due to the lack of rain and high temperatures and winds.

Paul Kassel, Iowa State University Extension field agronomist, said the hail and wind storm that struck parts of Hancock County was at its strongest from northwest of Garner to southeast of Klemme.

This bean field near Klemme is a total loss. Paul Kassel, Iowa State University Extension field agronomist, said although it’s too late to replant this field back to soybeans, it could be an opportunity to try cover crops.

The damage, which he said has been estimated to affect 60,000 acres, varies from minor damage to 100 percent damage to the entire field.

“Some was just that normal hail that caused some leaf stripping, where the producer will probably collect on his hail insurance, to a complete and total wipe out of the crop,” said Kassel.

While visiting the area last week, Kassel said some producers showed him pictures of the type of hail that came with the weather event.

“It was horrible-looking hail,” he said. “It was jagged and took up half of a producer’s hand. It was just awful looking.”

The hail was accompanied by some very strong winds as well. Kassel said power lines were damaged from those high winds as were a lot of trees and homes.

Levi Quayle, agronomy specialist for MaxYield Cooperative had many of his customers affected by the storm, which he was told brought 80 mph straight-line, winds along with the golf ball-sized hail.

“I’ve looked at some fields and there is a couple mile strip that is basically destroyed with almost no crop left,” said Quayle. “On the edges it gets much better, but there is still a lot of damage.”

Being as late in the growing season as it is, Kassel said producers are left with little options at this point.

“Some growers are planting more corn because they can use it as silage, otherwise at this point corn planted this time of year will be too wet at harvest, so having the option to use silage does make replanting corn more manageable,” he said.

Had producers taken the chance to re-plant beans last week, Kassel said at an agronomical standpoint he would have been fine with beans being re-planted at that time. However, sometimes crop insurance makes planting beans as a second crop a little difficult.

Kassel explained that crop insurance may not always be friendly to re-planting soybeans because not only does a producer need to re-insure that crop, they sometimes give up the benefits they might be receiving on the first crop.

A wind and hail storm such as this one, Kassel said, does give producers the perfect opportunity to plant cover crops.

“It’s a great opportunity to plant a normal cover crop in late August,” he said.

Other cover cropping options, Kassel said could be to plant a summer mix of cover crops just to give the land some cover and protection. However, this could be an expensive option.

If a producer would like to try some summer cover crops, Kassel said there are some radishes and different small grain mixtures such as oats and spring wheat available. These cover crops will see a winter kill, so they will not be an issue come next spring.

Quayle’s advice to producers in his area said it varies field by field.

“Depending on how much was lost and what the yield potential still is,” he said. “If the field has a very low yield potential, there isn’t really anything that can be done to save the crop. If we still have a good chance at a decent yield, then I would recommend putting a fungicide on the crop to protect it from disease.

The torn leaves are a great entry point for disease pathogens to enter the plant and fungicide would help protect against that.”


The fact there has been no weather events is affecting several counties in the state.

Kassel said an update to the drought monitor was to be given on Thursday and he expects to see expanded problematic areas.

“It is getting kind of serious,” said Kassel. “I live in Clay County and we haven’t had rain since June 30 and we were dry before.”

With the recent heat and wind and the lack of rainfall, Kassel expects there will be crop damage if rain doesn’t come soon.

“Corn is starting to pollinate and if we get some rain this could be a non-issue,” he said, adding that he doesn’t believe there is much rain forecasted.

While visiting the areas of southern Buena Vista and into Sac counties over the weekend, Kassel noticed some issues.

“There was corn growing on good soil that is just not looking good,” he said.

“There is going to be some winners and some losers with this,” he said. “And it is definitely a concern at this time.”

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