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Beryl Barrels Through Rural Texas
By Chris Clayton
Tuesday, July 9, 2024 5:36PM CDT

OMAHA (DTN) -- It will take time to assess all the agricultural damage in Texas and other states from Hurricane Beryl and its remnants, but at least some grain infrastructure was knocked out by winds that reached 95 miles per hour in some areas.

In Houston, millions of people remained without power on Tuesday while temperatures were expected to rise.

For farmers in areas such as Wharton County, Texas, south of Houston, the hurricane damaged crops as farmers were looking to rebound from years of drought. At least some producers were already harvesting crops such as sorghum and corn, or they were getting ready to harvest when the hurricane hit.

In Hillje, Texas, three grain bins for the United Agricultural Cooperative Inc. that had collective capacity to hold 1.1 million bushels were crushed by the winds. The bins were largely empty to prepare for harvest. That immediately wiped out about one-third of the cooperative's storage at the Hillje facility.

"It just totally mangled and twisted it up. It looks like a pile of junk," said Jimmy Roppolo, the cooperative's general manager.

Workers at the cooperative are now trying to safely bring down a grain dryer that is dangling on some torn metal, Roppolo said Tuesday afternoon.

"We're just trying to clean up and get ready for harvest, and hopefully, we'll still have a decent harvest in the area," Roppolo said. "Before the storm, our grain sorghum was looking decent. Our corn was looking really good, and our cotton was looking really good. Of course, the winds beat up everything pretty bad."

Both the corn and sorghum crops had a lot of acreage with crops leaning or outright flattened.

Daniel Bergland, a farmer in Wharton County, Texas, and a board member of the Texas Corn Producers, said a few farmers were starting to harvest, but most of the corn in the area was almost ready to combine. Bergland's sorghum was still a little too green, but a lot more sorghum was coming out of the ground before the hurricane hit.

"Just the day before yesterday, my son was helping someone trying to get finished before the storm came," Bergland said.

On the corn, Bergland said it's a question of timing and how long it takes to dry out to see just how much damage there was, but he added, "I think some of those fields are so flat they may not be worth cutting."

Bergland said the rain ranged from 3-8 inches across parts of Wharton and Matagorda counties, which are both also major rice-producing counties in the state. Farmers had already drawn down their fields to dry out before their first cut when the hurricane hit. Rice producers have been struggling during the past few years from drought.

"There are some rice farmers who saw some severe shattering and others with grain that are laying in the water," Bergland said.

The rain and muddy conditions will set back the first cut of rice, which also then will hurt the potential of a second crop out of those fields.

A spokesman for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service stated Tuesday afternoon that county Extension agents are just beginning to assess damages from the storm.

HAIL DAMAGE IN OTHER STATES

While farmers in Iowa and other states were rocked with torrential rains and floods in mid-June, farmers in other states are now posting more social media posts about hail damage from storms from the weekend. Farmers stretching across Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and a few spots in Iowa and Minnesota showed swaths of areas hit, as well as their own crop damage. Garrett Love (@Garrett_Love), a farmer in southwest Kansas, posted on social platform X, "Took a direct hit from 2 massive hailstorms last night here in Gray County on our farm and many others. Had some beautiful crops get wiped out along with a lot of other damage including several flipped sprinklers. Over 5 inches of rain ... "

Mike James (@cornandcalves), in southeastern Nebraska, also showed a damaged field from flood waters on the Missouri River bottoms. "The mighty Mo giveth and she taketh away. We don't count our chickens before they hatch around here ..."

The frustrating part for producers, Bergland said, is that most of them in areas such as Texas can only afford crop insurance that covers between 65% to 75% of the crop because they are considered to be in a high-risk environment. Along with that, even though prices are lower, they won't kick in the commodity safety net. Producers could have to wait for Congress to pass a new farm bill or pass a disaster package to deal with the widespread potential losses this year.

"Rural America is going to hurt if we don't get some help," Bergland said.

Also see "Remnants of Hurricane Beryl Forecast to Affect Eastern Corn Belt" here:

https://www.dtnpf.com/….

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on social platform X @ChrisClaytonDTN


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