Iowa ag secretary: Central third of state’s crops damaged

By: - August 11, 2020 4:27 pm

Iowa crops sustained damage in storms on Aug. 10, 2020. (Screen shot from Iowa PBS livestream)

The central third of Iowa’s cropland was heavily damaged, as were grain bins that would have held tens of millions of bushels of corn, Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig said Tuesday.

Naig said some of the corn and soybean plants in the east-west band across the state will survive and produce grain, but it’s too early to tell how many. He toured Iowa with other ag officials Tuesday. 

“There is very significant, severe damage to the crops,” which had looked to be headed to a better-than-average yield. “It will be a significant loss to producers, but to put a number on it is difficult at this point,” Naig added. 

It could be weeks  before the state has an idea how much financial damage the storm has inflicted on 10 million of the state’s 30 million farm acres, some of which isn’t in row crops. Some farmers won’t know until the harvest, he added. 

Naig said grain storage was already going to be difficult because of the promise of a large crop, and because markets have been disrupted by the trade war with China. Ethanol production has fallen, too, leaving corn from last year unprocessed in many cases, he added.

Mike Naig is Iowa secretary of agriculture. (Photo courtesy of state of Iowa)

Naig said the damage reports were “striking in how widespread it was.” Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation for 13 counties on Tuesday.

The damage will affect the state’s economy, especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which already has rattled the economy. Naig said it is still too soon to know how much. 

“This is a very emotional situation for a lot of Iowa farmers, and this has been a challenging year,” Naig said. “And now they have this on top of” the market disruptions and COVID-19 pandemic, he added.

He encouraged farmers experiencing stress to call Iowa Concern Hotline, 800-447-1985.

State Climatologist Justin Glisan said the state gets a derecho straight-line wind once every other year. “Any time you have sustained straight-line winds of over 60 miles per hour or 70 mph, you are going to have significant damage,” Glisan said. 

The Iowa storm Monday had winds clocked at close to 100 mph.

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