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Powell, WY

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Hellacious hail

Powell Flat farmer Bill Cox kneels in a barley field just east of his home on Lane 11 Wednesday. In his right hand he is holding damaged barley heads; in his left he has a handful of barley seeds he scooped off the ground. Powell Flat farmer Bill Cox kneels in a barley field just east of his home on Lane 11 Wednesday. In his right hand he is holding damaged barley heads; in his left he has a handful of barley seeds he scooped off the ground. Tribune photo by Toby Bonner

Hail storm hits powell crops hard

Tuesday evening’s sudden, violent storm damaged many Powell area crops just days before some would have been harvested.

The storm lashed the area around 6 p.m., bringing winds that topped out around 50 mph, hail and strong rain. Hail up to one-half inch in diameter was reported in Powell, according to local weather spotters.

Bill Cox estimated between one-third and one-half of his 750 acres of barley was lost to Tuesday night’s hail. The rest suffered at least some damage, he said.

Cox, who farms about three miles southwest of Powell, said he had planned to harvest his barley in seven days.

The hail’s impact was widespread, said Rick Stroh, who farms southeast of Powell. At around 9 a.m. Wednesday, Stroh said he was heading out to his fields to assess the damage.

He knew the corn and beans were hit pretty hard on Cemetery Road (Lane 9). Barley in some locations was gone, while the hail damage was minimal in other places on Cemetery Road. Around Garland, hail damage appeared minor, Stroh said.

Stroh said his corn was hit hard near Lane 10.

Jerry Faxon estimated a 30 percent loss of his barley crop north of Powell.

Barley is particularly vulnerable now so near harvest, because the dry seed heads waiting for the combine can break easily under hail, said his wife, Terry Faxon.

“When it’s ripe like that, it just falls off,” Cox said.

Beets may recover, but beans, not so much, farmers explained. Beet plants can grow leaves back, but if beans lose their blooms they cannot grow seed pods, Heart Mountain farmer Ric Rodriguez said.

Jerry Faxon said his sunflowers east of town were hit hard, and his beets on Lane 8 west of Road 12 were pelted extensively. “I would say substantial damage,” Faxon said.

His beets on Lane 8 west of Road 12 showed a great deal of damage, Faxon said.

His barley hail insurance guarantees a certain percentage of crop compensation based on the average yield. For other crops lost, Faxon said he will file claims on his multi-peril insurance.

Rodriguez said he suffered crop damage on a one and one-half by one-half-mile strip of land between Lanes 11 and 9.

His barley was hit the hardest. Harvest was planned in around 10 to 14 days, Rodriguez said.

Some barley plants lost their entire heads, while others lost a few kernels, Rodriguez said.

He won’t know the percentage of losses until insurance adjusters have examined the crops, but he predicted the adjusters would be busy inspecting fields in the area.

Faxon said hail can devastate beet yields in September and even October because the hail-damaged plant will transfer its sugar from the beet to the leaves. “Bottom line,” he said, “it (hail) is never a good thing.”

The Powell area received 0.54 inches of rain early Tuesday evening, according to the National Weather Service. Driven by the wind, the rain came down hard.

“The rain probably did as much damage as the hail did,” Rodriguez said.

Cox said lightning nailed the electrical transformer outside his home Tuesday night, causing some electrical damage inside his home. “To add insult to injury,” he added with a unflappable chuckle.

Pray for the farmers, said Klodette Stroh.

“Please be in prayer for the farmers who lost entire fields of crops last night,” said Jill Smith, who with her husband Seaton Smith, owns Gluten Free Oats and contracts with local farmers.

“There is not a grain of barley left on the heads, and the rest of the crops took a hit wherever the storm hit,” Jill Smith said. “It started at about Road 11 and went over the top of us to at least Road 1. We praise God that our oats are OK, but still hurt for those who lost so much.”

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3 comments

  • posted by SuperSixOne

    August 02, 2013 9:28 pm

    @Pam Williams. I survive easily without our farmers. I do not consume refined sugar, because it the principle cause in cancer cell growth and diabetes. I stay away from oats, barley, beans and grains, I do this because they turn to sugars / carbohydrates after consumption. If you consume those, this will spike ones insulin, which leads to fat storage. And you know America's obesity problems. In fact, you can thank the American Sugar industry, and their government subsidies, for the creation of the Drug Enforcement Agency. See, Caribbean & Central / South American farmers can grow sugar for pennies on the dollar, in comparison to American sugar farmers. So, what did the Caribbean & Central / South American farmers turn to for cash crops? Well, that would be cocoa leaves (cocaine) and marijuana. Which are shipped up thru our porous borders, and fed to your children. But since you are not a farmer, or one who deals with threat finance / intelligence for a living, I expect very little from you in terms of understanding of what goes on in this world, or what goes on within the walls of our corrupt government. I see you watch the news, and believe it as the gospel. See, subsidy takers are no different than perpetual welfare recipients. Their only separated by word semantics. Kids born into welfare, are likely to follow in their parent's footsteps. This is true of farming. The sad reality, if they were to sell the family farm, the same government who subsidized them all their lives, would reap a huge tax gain on the sale of their farm. Farmers are, in a way, government surfs. No one put a gun to any farmer's head, and ordered him or her to farm. Their profession, was their choice. Just like my profession was my choice, and you, yours. The trials and tribulations of one's profession, are theirs to bear.

  • posted by Pam Williams

    August 02, 2013 10:42 am

    I am sure they are NOT compensated for their time or hard work! Let's see SuperSixOne try to survive without our farmers. Oh, and by the way, I am NOT a farmer, just understand and appreciate their contribution!

  • posted by SuperSixOne

    August 01, 2013 8:40 pm

    There is a happy ending to this story however. The seeds were purchased with a USDA loan, so what is left of the crop is pulled out of the ground, handed over to the government, and the loan is forgiven. The only true victims are the tax payers, who poor billions into farm subsidies. Oh yea, let's not forget the crop insurance policies.

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