Crop damage extensive, can see from space

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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Several times this summer, extreme weather has left the Tri-Cities flooded, wind-blown, buried in hail, and in a cycle of cleaning up after each new storm. Grand Island has already made this August the second wettest month on record, when August is ordinarily rather dry. Other places around the Tri-Cities area report well over a foot of rain this month.

Imagery from NASA's Terra satellite shows dead crops after several rounds of severe weather.

On the morning of August 7th, winds from 80 to 90 miles per hour blew through Grand Island, South along 281 through Doniphan, Hansen, and Trumbull, flattening whole fields of corn.

Then on August 23, a severe thunderstorm with 1" hail and 70mph winds entered Adams County after 3am. This storm's hail being driven by the high winds continued for nearly a half hour in places, shredding crops on the West and South sides of town. Hail accumulated in some places and lasted well into the afternoon.

Now the question for these lost crops is, what next? For some, there may be some in-tact corn remaining on the stalks. According to Amy Sandeen, Executive Director of the Prairie Loft Center for Outdoor and Agricultural Learning, the fact that most corn has been pollinated may save some. "There's a chance that there could be a yield. I know that everybody is looking at putting in claims and the possibility of harvesting it for silage rather than grain. And I know that we were luckier than most because we have dry land fields here, and the shelter belts."

The high trees surrounding their fields broke up the highest winds, but open fields did not have such shelter. Most views of corn fields west of Hastings are of corn stalks broken if not completely sheared off a few feet above the ground. Sandeen says that these crops may just wind up as silage.

But farmers are already considering how they can be prepared for next year, before this year's harvest has even come. "Food producers, farmers, are the most resilient people in the world. So everybody is going to figure out how to get through this year, already planning for next year, to really think about the best soil health, the best yield, the best growing season." Sandeen noted the extreme weather we've seen as an outlier, and that it isn't to be expected every year. She said that most farmers will just "roll with the punches" from Nature.

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