Farmers began assessing the damage of a hailstorm that struck Sunday morning along U.S. Highway 20 from Webster and Calhoun counties east to Hardin and Grundy counties.
“I was in services at the First Baptist Church in Eldora and suddenly the storm came up and blew out the windows,” said Ray McDowell, who owns a farm east of Eldora.
“Then I went home and saw that most of my corn and soybeans had been hit,” McDowell said. “I can’t remember a hailstorm this bad for at least 20 years.”
The Eldora area took the brunt of the damage. Farmer Gregg Reisinger said his soybean crop was a total loss and that 500 acres of corn were either damaged or destroyed.
“There’s not much I can do except wait for the insurance adjuster,” said Reisinger, who has farmed for 40 years.
Reisinger also lost one of his horses in the storm. Several other animals were injured when caught outside by the quick-moving storm.
“It could have been worse,” said Reisinger. “Nobody in the family was injured.”
Hardin County extension agent Darwin Miller said he hadn’t seen damage so extensive in the eight years he’s been with the extension service.
“The worst was along a three-mile swath from Owasa to Eldora along Highway 175,” said Miller.
“There was a combination of large hail and shear winds, and it just flattened things,” said Miller. “Fortunately, the damage was localized but it’s extensive.”
Chuck Walters, who farms east of Eldora, said “you can’t see a tassel. I don’t think there’ll be much salvage. The ears are still there but without the leaves they’ll probably rot and die.”
Walters said that until Sunday morning, the crop he was raising was “absolutely perfect. One of the best we’ve ever seen.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture crop reports through last week had consistently reported Iowa’s corn and soybean crops this year at 80 percent good to excellent.
The promise of a bumper corn crop had pushed down prices on the futures market. Corn traded at $4.60 per bushel in May but reports of good planting and growing conditions, as well as larger-than-expected corn acreage, had pushed prices down to less than $3.40 per bushel.
Grain traders didn’t treat the storm as a major calamity for the crop as a whole. December corn rose 4 cents per bushel Monday on the Chicago Board of Trade, closing at $3.31. September corn rose by 2.4 cents to $3.24 per bushel.
Randy Hertz, who operates a farm management company, said “Hardin County was hit hard but this wasn’t confined to them. There was damage all the way west to Webster and Calhoun Counties.”
Hertz said the worst damage was in a 15-mile wide swath that extended along U.S. Highway 20 east to Grundy County.
“We have a farm in Hamilton County where the corn was stripped badly,” said Hertz.
A second line of thunderstorms hit Iowa late Sunday afternoon but brought mostly rain.
“It was a hard rain,” said Doug Holliday, who farms near Adair. “But it was just what we needed.”
Mike Brelsford, who farms near Perry, said, “I was worried because the corn stalks are carrying a lot of weight on them. But they stood up well in the wind.”
Ron Gordon, who farms near Creston, said “you never want to turn down a rain in August. We needed it. But I’m sorry for those who got the hail. That’s never good.”