July windstorm leads to challenging fall harvest - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

July windstorm leads to challenging fall harvest


Many farmers in Tama and Benton counties are calling this one of the most challenging harvests in recent memory. Three months ago, a massive windstorm swept through the counties, flattening crops and destroying property. Farmers dealt with damaged homes, barns, grain bins, and equipment. Now they're working to harvest thousands of damaged acres of farmland.

Any given year, it takes Rodney Stueck 10 to 12 days to harvest about 800 acres of corn and beans. This fall, he's grateful to have a yield, even if it's taking twice as long to get through the rows.

"It was flat. It was flat. The grass was taller than the corn. The soybeans stood taller than my corn for three days," said Stueck.

"No we don't have as good a crop as what we would have had July 10th. But yes, we have a better crop than what it looked like we would have July 11th," noted Greg Walstrom, Benton County ISU Extension Program Director.

Unfortunately, battling through mis-shapen stalks is only one of the challenges farmers are facing. As they make their way through the rows, many are finding a lot of debris still laying in the field.

"Start, then come across a piece of steel, stop, move it, start," said Walstrom.

"Physically, most of it, if it's to big you just leave it. The smaller stuff you move. But the stress part -- it's goose-necked coming up 60 inches before it comes back in and it's hard to see," Stueck added.

Even after the corn is out of the field, there are still roadblocks ahead in storing the grain.

"The Tama/Benton Co-op, unfortunately, was not able to get the big structure back up that they wanted to," said Walstrom. "I know they're still suffering with a huge amount of storage loss that they could have had this fall."

Walstrom said most farmers have been able to rebuild or replace the grain bins on their property. Some are trucking their corn for storage in other parts of the state, where yields are not as good.

Walstrom said, when it's all said and done, most farmers will come out okay this year, at least financially. But this is one harvest they're happy to put behind them.

"I won't forget it. This whole year has been altered. It's one that will stick in your memory. It will. Mother nature was cruel to us," Stueck said.

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