Crops take a beating from recent hail storm

Staff reporter

The hail that fell June 18 may not have broken any windows or knocked off shingles from roofs but it did cause major damage to some crops in the Marion area.

According to Marion County Extension Agent Ricky Roberts, the early morning storm took about a two-mile-wide swath across the Marion area, knocking down wheat, breaking corn stalks, and trampling soybeans.

"This is about the worst I've ever seen in my life, and certainly since I've been here," Roberts said, who has been the county extension agent for the past seven years.

The hardest hit, Roberts said, was an area near Marion County Lake, where he surveyed the damage with a local producer.

"I would certainly term his loss as very significant," Roberts said.

He explained that there is a "growing point" in corn stalks. As long as the growing point is not dead, the plant has a "fighting chance" of coming back. Much of what Roberts saw was stripping of stalks and stalks being beaten and bruised which also can kill the growing point.

Some corn fields south of Marion also suffered significant stripping of leaves and broken stalks.

Soybeans, Roberts said, have been beaten to the ground and in some places there is only bare ground. More time is needed, he said, to determine the actual loss of those crops.

Some wheat fields have bent and broken heads which means wheat on the ground, making harvest difficult. The wheat that is bent over from the hail, rain, and wind will not straighten up.

"There was one field I saw that I would consider to have 100 percent damage," Roberts said.

Crops also have been damaged by Peabody, he said, from a previous storm but other parts of the county have been luckier with minimal or no damage to fields.

Determining a percentage of loss is a difficult task because damage can vary greatly from field to field, Roberts said. The storms have been isolated, striking small areas.

"We probably won't know the full extent of the damage until we get in the fields," Roberts said.

Overall, the agriculture professional said the wheat crop should be pretty good but for those farmers who have damaged crops, it's going to be slow going to get as much of the broken heads as possible.

"It's not going to be much fun this year doing that," Roberts said.