How much did the derecho damage Iowa agriculture?

Iowa secretary of agriculture Mike Naig, along with several other state and national leaders, has been touring damage in Iowa after a derecho brought devastating high winds through the region.

“Millions of acres of corn around the state were impacted by last week’s storm. The severity of the damage varies by field, but some acres are a total loss and it will not be feasible for farmers to harvest them,” reports Naig. “I’ll continue to work with farmers, USDA, and crop insurance providers to identify solutions as we approach a very challenging harvest season.”

Grain storage

Preliminary estimates of the damage indicate more than 57 million bushels of permanently-licensed grain storage was seriously damaged or destroyed. Heartland Co-op locations in Luther and Malcom, Iowa, and Key Cooperative in Marshalltown all sustained significant damage. Co-ops in the state estimate it will cost more than $300 million to remove, replace, or repair the damaged grain storage bins.

Three large grain bins on a Heartland Co-op site that were damaged in the August 10 derecho
Photo credit: Natalina Sents

On-farm storage was also lost during the storm. The Iowa Department of Agriculture expressed concern this may create grain storage challenges for farmers as the 2020 harvest season rapidly approaches.

Farmers Business Network conducted a survey of their membership in the storm's path. Based on survey results, FBN chief economist Kevin McNew estimates 50 to 75 million bushels of bin space belonging to farmers in Iowa will be out of commission for the 2020 harvest.

Crops

USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) reported 57 Iowa counties were in the path of the August 10 storm. There are approximately 8.2 million acres of corn and 5.6 million acres of soybeans in that area that may have been impacted by the high winds.

Using MODIS satellite imagery and Storm Prediction Center preliminary storm reports, the Iowa Deparment of Agriculture estimates 36 counties were hardest hit by the derecho. About 3.5 million acres of corn and 2.5 million acres of soybeans are grown within that region.

Derecho damaged corn in Malcom, Iowa
Photo credit: Natalina Sents

McNew says 15% of FBN members in Iowa, representing 2.3 million acres, reported laid down corn as a result of the storm. "We expect about 100 million bushels of corn to be lost, if not higher," he says.

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