Weather causes extensive crop damage

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Hail from a series of thunderstorms last week caused at least $10 million in crop damage in Parmer and Bailey counties, according to agricultural officials.

Bailey County Extension Agent Curtis Preston said the hail — some as big as baseballs — destroyed about 25,000 acres of corn, cotton and grain sorghum crops in adjoining counties.

He said farmers are waiting to see if another 50,000 acres that was damaged will survive.

“They’ll come back with another crop, but it just won’t be as good,” he said of the price of the crops, such as corn, which closed Friday at between $13.09 to $13.30 a bushel, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The crops we lost we had insurance on them, and that might pay the total bill up to this point (in the season) and sometimes it doesn’t.”

The two counties have about 400,000 acres of farmland, according to Preston.

He said farmers can also try to recoup losses by planting supplemental crops such as sorghum, black-eyed peas and sunflowers.

Preston said the supplement crops need to be planted by July 1 in order to mature properly.

“They won’t replace the income lost,” Preston said. “They’ll make a little money on them.”

The storms couldn’t have come at a worst time, according to Parmer County Extension Agent Monti Vandiver.

“The worst thing is we’re right at the end of the planting window to get a secondary crop in,” he said. “As you plant later, you stand more risk that a freeze is going to kill the crop before it has time to mature.”

Corn and cotton crops were planted about six weeks ago and would have been scheduled for harvest in September and October, according to Preston.

Farmers across the border in New Mexico were more fortunate.

Curry County Agriculture Extension Agent Stan Jones said Curry County was spared the hail damage but could have used more rain.

Roosevelt County experienced light winds and rain, according to extension agent Patrick Kircher.