This week’s snowstorm packed stronger winds but crop damage still ‘minimal’
November 4, 2011
In just a week’s time, area farmers have received as much – if not more – precipitation from snow this year as they saw all of last winter.
A wonderful thing for farmers who planted wheat in recent weeks, but the recent blasts of winter have rattled the nerves of producers with crops still standing tall in the fields.
This week’s storm brought stronger winds than that of the winter weather that swept through the area last week. The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of about 30 mph in the Greeley area during Tuesday night’s and Wednesday morning’s storm.
While strong winds this time of year can cause damage to a tall-standing corn crop that’s still being harvested, area farmers said their corn remained upright, for the most part, Wednesday morning.
Weld County farmer Alan Frank said some corn was knocked over in just one of his fields, located near Kersey, but said he believed the field already had problems with rootworm and other issues that had weakened stalks before the winds this week. Looking at other fields in the area Wednesday, he didn’t notice hardly any other areas with damaged corn stalks.
“The damage seemed to be very minimal overall,” he said.
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If stalks break and the corn falls over to the ground, it is difficult – sometimes impossible – to harvest the damaged crop.
The snow this week means wet fields once again, forcing local farmers to stay off their ground and get further behind in harvesting two of the area’s major crops – corn and sugar beets. Frank said he still has about 450 acres of corn yet to harvest; Weld County Commissioner and Platteville area farmer Doug Rademacher noted that he was only about halfway done with his corn crop; and Frank Eckhardt of the La Salle area said about 1,000 of his 1,500 acres of corn still need to be harvested.
Eckhardt added that he only had 22 of his 457 acres of sugar beets still to harvest.
“If the storm would have held off just another day or two, we would have our sugar beets done right now,” Eckhardt said. “It’s a little frustrating, but what can you do about it?”
The farmers said they wouldn’t be able to get back on the fields until this weekend or early next week – if no more precipitation comes to the area. However, forecasts indicate that more moisture could be headed to Weld County this weekend.
“If that’s the case, it could be another couple weeks before we get back out there,” Rademacher said. Eckhardt said he wants to get the remainder of his sugar beets harvested before late autumn and early winter temperatures start dipping too low and freeze the beets, ruining the crop.
He also said he needs to get his corn out of the fields as soon as possible, as the cold weather and other factors can weaken the crop’s stalks and make it more susceptible to being knocked over by wind.