It’s a kind of waiting game that farmers say they really don’t have time for – many are checking their damaged fields while they watch the clock because the planting window is quickly closing.
Hail storms like the ones that swept across central Nebraska on Tuesday leave farmers with hard choices about replanting or waiting to see what keeps growing. But York County Extension Educator Gary Zoubek says it takes time to fully see the damage.
“By giving them a few days you’re going to be able to evaluate those stands and then make more informed decisions,” says Zoubek. The University of Nebraska has guides for assessing hail damage to corn, soybeans, and grains online.
Unfortunately, having patience is easier said than done for producers as the days for planting dwindle.
“Timing – if this was May 15, it’d be an easy decision because we’d really go ahead and plant, but it’s going to be more like June 15 or June 10 before we can get back in there,” says Zoubek.
Merrick County farmer Mark McHargue says he isn’t left wondering about replanting a popcorn field north of Chapman. It was about eight inches tall on Tuesday, and by Wednesday, barely anything was still poking out of the ground.
“This is the worst hail damage we’ve ever had, I mean there really isn’t anything left,” he says. “The question for us is do we replant it to popcorn or do we replant it to field corn, both of them are a little risky, we’re trying to figure out what our options are.”
McHargue says finding seed and replanting quickly will be a challenge as he and other farmers work with insurance adjusters. McHargue, the First Vice President of the Nebraska Farm Bureau, says he had the popcorn field federally insured. He says the storm that caused widespread damage all the way into Iowa makes him thankful for the recently passed farm bill.
“We pay a portion of that premium, but farm bill picks up part of that and this highlights the reason that we have federal crop insurance,” says McHargue.