By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
Hail pounded the daylights out of more crops in Chase County last week, for what seems like this umpteenth time this summer.
This time, it was farmers in the Lamar area that got hit.
Unlike some of the previous storms that significantly stripped up corn fields, last Wednesday’s storm shredded every crop in its path.
Many pivots of corn and beans, along with dryland corn fields in the Lamar area, have been declared a total loss.
The storm, which started in the Venango area, seemed to follow a path along the state line road, Avenue 311.
As it moved closer to Lamar, the storm shifted a little further east, following a line along Avenue 314, where Lamar Fertilizer sits along Hwy. 6.
The damage intensified about five miles north of Lamar, with hail shredding fields in the path of the storm.
The devastation continued south of Hwy. 6 along Ave. 314 with hail taking out entire circles of corn and beans.
Gregg Smith said he lost seven to eight circles of crops north of Lamar.
He said three circles of popcorn, one of field corn and three circles of edible beans simply got hammered in the storm.
The storm also overturned two pivots in its path. Smith said the sugar beets under the two pivots are salvageable but he expects yields to be affected by 50 percent or more.
Tim and Lisa Schilke live about two miles south of Hwy. 6 and their farm fell in the path of destruction as well.
Schilke said six circles of corn and a quarter of dryland corn are a total loss.
Lisa Schilke estimated the winds at 70-80 mph during the storm. She said the storm threw marble-size hail, driven by the high winds, for nearly 20 minutes.
After the storm passed, she estimated the ground was covered with at least four inches of hail.
Schilke said he didn’t know whether the corn stalks left behind could even be chopped for silage.
He said they are testing the stalks for nitrate content to see if the silage could be safely fed.
Schilke’s neighbors got pounded as well. Gunner Martin said he lost four circles of corn in the storm.
Roy and Wayne Bahler lost all four of their circles of corn.
Roy Bahler said he could only remember one storm, in 1996, that was worse.
He said the hail damaged their roof, knocked out windows, pounded siding and broke out yard lights.
After the storm passed, he said hail was piled up 12 inches deep beside the house. Thursday afternoon there was still hail five inches deep in shaded areas around the house.
Near Lamar Fertilizer, hail piled up on the highway, making it look like deep snow had just fallen.
Ray Walrod, who runs the state roads department shop in Imperial, said they called out a snow plow to clear hail from about 1.3 miles of highway in that vicinity.
In addition to crop loss, Bart Stromberger said the hail virtually mowed his pastures in the path of the storm.
He said the pastures had some good grass with this year’s rains. That became all for naught after the hail hit.
Crop damage from the storm will likely run into the millions.
The loss of the crops will also have a ripple effect on the local economy as well.
Any further inputs on the crop will stop and there will be no harvesting either. In addition, grain merchandisers won’t get the opportunity to market the lost grain, which is yet another cog in the economic wheel.
Wheat harvest all but complete
Fortunately, the wheat in the path of last week’s storm had been harvested.
This year’s wheat harvest started after July 4th and continued to drag on throughout the month due to weather conditions.
All of this year’s wheat crop is finally in the bin with the exception of a few irrigated seed wheat fields that haven’t dried down.
Several farmers said they just finished harvest over the weekend.
Jerry Kuenning of Imperial said he can’t recall a year when the harvest took so long. Normally, a week to 10 days will take care of it, he said.
When they did finish this weekend, he said it was almost anti-climactical.
Humid conditions from this summer’s rains limited daily harvest time. That, coupled with intermittent rains during harvest
contributed to making this year’s harvest long and drawn out.