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Growers try to harvest damaged crops

From destructive summer afternoon


by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Farmers Travis Ralls and Seth Klann, both of Madras, try to figure out how to separate two wheel lines on north Agency Plains that were twisted together during the storm on Aug. 25. Area farmers and agencies have been assessing fields since last week’s devastating hail and wind storm that beat down crops, stripping leaves and seeds from the stalks.

Farmer Greg Williams, who is also a field representative for Central Oregon Seeds Inc., said things dried out enough for him to harvest the remains of his carrot seed field in Gateway Aug 29.

Williams farms 2,400 acres under the name Deschutes Basin Farms, and said of those, he had 430 acres of alfalfa and carrot seed with damage. His acres are located in various areas of the county.

by: SUSAN MATHENY - Greg Williams, farmer and fieldman for Central Oregon Seeds Inc., shows the damage to his carrot field. Williams estimates county crop and equipment damage from the Aug. 25 storm will be in the $6 million to $7 million.He will also try to harvest the toppled over plants on his 70-acre carrot seed field on Boise Drive, but said, “What would have been 200 pounds of seed per acre, is now 30 pounds an acre.”

“We’re estimating a 50 percent loss, due to seed shatter,” he said of hybrid carrot seed crops managed by COSI. Combined with the damage to irrigation equipment, and alfalfa and other crops, Williams estimated the county’s total loss could be $6-$7 million.

Mylen Bohle, extension agent for forage and alfalfa crops, toured the area after the storm. “I saw alfalfa fields with the top leaves stripped off, and CAL Farms organic radish and pumpkin fields all got beat down by hail. Thousands of acres were affected,” he said.

“The alfalfa yields will be affected and quality reduced because of the leaves being knocked off, and they will have to wait for it to dry to harvest it,” Bohle said, adding, “If the third cutting isn’t off the field by Aug. 15-20, the last cutting won’t be any good.”

Farm Service Agency Director Cameron Kirsch said he couldn’t give out numbers on how many farmers had crop insurance through FSA, but noted, “We’ve heard from them and we’re working on the required paperwork.”

For the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, Kirsch said growers need to have a 50 percent yield loss, and the insurance pays at 55 percent of an “approved” or preset price.

“We encourage any grower who has suffered crop loss to contact our office,” he said. The FSA phone number is 541-923-4358.

The Central Oregon Agricultural Research Center, which was directly in the path of the storm, had most of it crop trials for the year destroyed.

COARC farm manager Hoyt Downing said a legume trial with soybeans, dry beans and chickpeas was hit hard. “The spring wheat variety trial is ruined. It wasn’t harvested yet and we’re just going to till it up,” he said.

A flower trial being done for bee pollen research was damaged, and a planted mint lot was hit hard by hail, but will probably grow back.

Downing said the winter wheat, grass seed and alfalfa variety trials had all been harvested, so those experiments were OK.

“It really was sad. The soybeans really did look nice and like they had some potential, but the hail worked them over pretty good,” Downing said.



Local Weather

Fair

80°F

Madras

Fair

Humidity: 23%

Wind: 7 mph

  • 29 Aug 2014

    Mostly Sunny 83°F 51°F

  • 30 Aug 2014

    Mostly Cloudy 75°F 47°F