Officials give guidance on what to do with storm-damaged crops

Local farmers have been through a lot

By Jim Magdefrau

VAN HORNE – What should farmers do with their storm-damaged crops? Chop it? Bale it? Harvest it? Leave it on the ground?

Denise Schwab speaks at O’Gradys.

Extension, agriculture and insurance staff addressed these issues in the storm-damage information meeting Monday, Aug. 24, at O’Grady Chemical, Van Horne.

Greg Walston of the extension service said there was a derecho back in 2011, but that did not compare with what happened on Aug. 10 as farmer’s crops, homes and bins were damaged by high, sustained winds.

They heard from the Farm Service Agency, and specialists for NRCS, livestock, crop and insurance.

Grain

Meaghan Anderson, field agronomist, said there all kinds of levels of bad corn now, and a lot of it is happening in the same field. One is corn that is still standing and can finish out the season. The question is if it is worth harvesting or if it is a total loss. Some are missing leaves and will see less photosynthetic action. There is also gooseneck corn. Some are at an angle, but closer to being vertical. There is corn that is bent over. The roots may be partially pulled out the ground. This will have a lower yield, because of its root system. There’s also corn that is “lodging” or lying completely on the ground. Because the corn is close to the ground there might be quality issues and it could be difficult to dry. When it is broken off below the ear, they will be suspended in their development, and it probably won’t make it to the combine.

The question is how much of these types are in the field. She stressed to stay in close communication with their insurance agents.

She hopes fields get released which are really flat. They are not coming back. They need to be monitored for ear rot and micro-toxins. These need to be determined in the field. She added that cover crops won’t be great in managing volunteer corn, plus they need moisture to germinate the cover crop.

Farm Service Agency, NRCS and beef

Amie Bill, Farm Service Agency, explained loans for bins and the rules affecting them. They are still getting information on this. She urged farmers to call ahead and meet with their bankers. The pandemic is affecting access to their office. As the county opens up, they can hopefully make appointments with farmers. As for marketing assistance loans, this will also be an issue this year and she has no guidance on this yet. When sealing corn and beans, it’s important to know the actual quantity. She added that interest rates are phenomenal right now. As far as she knows, corn can be sealed in a bag, but they need to know the moisture. She stressed having good measurements.

Tina Cibula, Natural Resources Conservation Service, also met through Zoom. She said they are working on getting information. She did give information on cover crops and wind breaks. She urged people to contact her office on this.

Denise Schwab, beef specialist, addressed using the grain for silage. Corn can be used for feed, but she outlined several concerns about toxins. Moisture and anaerobics are critical. If silage is used, use it up before the summer is over. She also addressed germination.

ADM

Dan Bowman of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) updated the farmers on the Keystone and Cedar Rapids facilities. In Keystone, they working to clean it up and get as much grain as they can out of that facility. They will work to service as many grain operations as they can. They don’t know anything yet on moisture limitations. He added if farmers feel they can’t fill their contracts, they need to get ahold of ADM as soon as possible to work on solutions.

Insurance

Virgil Weers, crop adjuster, addressed toxins and read a question-and-answer sheet. All Approved Insurance Providers (AIP) follow the same guidelines, he stressed. He said farmers are not required to harvest severely wind-damaged corn. It may be mechanically unharvestable. It may need to be appraised. It can be a part of the field or the whole field. They are working to get guidelines and determining the threshold.

Help

Walston closed with a plea to area farmers. “We need to take care of you. You need to take care of yourselves. If you are hurting, and no one else knows it, tell somebody. This has been a heck of a road. I understand that. You guys have been through a lot of crap this last six months. Get out and seek help. Talk to each other.”

Walston hoped the meeting helped with this. He urged them to react if they know someone who is suffering. “Please react. Please do something about it.”

Audio from farm meeting in Van Horne.

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