Crop Damage and Grower Loss: Addressing Both Fronts

Crop Damage and Grower Loss: Addressing Both Fronts

July 1, 2010

The recent damage to crops from excessive rain, hail, and high winds has created many questions for growers. Unfortunately, the window to take corrective action is quickly closing or has passed, depending on the crop in question.

Family and Farm Assistance

If the load feels a little too heavy or a quagmire of bureaucracy seems too unwieldy, help is but a phone call away.

A confidential call to one of the following groups can be a first step in dealing with the mental, emotional, financial, and sometimes legal aftermath of storm damage.

  • Nebraska Rural Response Hotline   1-800-464-0258

    The hotline serves as a confidential information and resource hub, answering questions and directing callers to the appropriate resources, including attorneys, financial counselors, clergy, mediators, or other farmers.

    Staff also can help callers deal with the emotional and mental health issues of losing a crop through the Counseling, Outreach, and Mental Health Therapy (COMHT) program. COMHT helps provide free, confidential mental health crisis counseling to distressed farm and rural families. Often services may be available in or near the caller’s community.

    The Hotline is a project of Legal Aid of Nebraska and the Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska in cooperation with a number of farm organizations.
  • Nebraska Farm Mediation Service   402-471-4876

    This Nebraska Department of Agriculture program facilitates discussion and provides mediation services for farmers and the financial or government institutions they work with, said Marian Beethe, program manager. Mediation is a confidential, low-cost alternative to litigation.

    Such services may be helpful when a producer receives an adverse decision from the USDA FSA (for example, related to a crop disaster declaration) or needs to resolve a borrower-lender issue with a bank.

    The program also can provide help through a farm-law attorney, financial counselor, or other services. For more information see the NDA Farm Mediation website or call 402-471-4876.

Many references to this topic suggest the first thing growers should do is to contact their crop insurance agent and the FSA office. While this is important and certainly high on the priority list, this author suggests an inventory of something more important —  the mental and physical well being of the grower and his or her family.

The loss of crop or livestock can inflict anxiety, depression, apathy and even anger. For your good, and that of your family, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. What “mother nature” has dished out is not your fault, and you shouldn’t take the blame for it. The few dollars invested for professional help will be money well spent. (Free services also may be available; see box.)

From an agronomic perspective, much has been written about the effects of storm damage on crop production. Some articles are supported by a fair amount of research while others are based on observation. Recommended resources include our own, CropWatch, which includes related articles and links to UNL resources on the topic and a Purdue University website.

CropWatch articles and some recommended resources related to storm and flood damage are available at Flood and Storm Response Information.

Also, Purdue's Crop Management Information for Flood-Damaged Field Crops is an exceptional web resource. Bob Nielsen, Purdue’s Extension Corn Specialist and Gretna, Nebraska native, has assembled a reference tool worth bookmarking. Articles by specialists from Nebraska, Iowa State, Purdue and other north central land grant institutions are listed.

The three schools I noted are important as they represent corn growing regions with latitudes similar to Nebraska. Although our soils are very different from their soils, we have much in common from a growing season perspective.

Irrigation Aid. Nebraska growers also have irrigation, a tool to apply additional nitrogen. After flooding and subsequent silting of the plant, a light application of irrigation water can wash soil particles off the plant which can improve its vigor in some cases.  For more information on potential nitrogen loss due to heavy rains or flooding, see Unknown Soil N Losses: What to Do?

After assessing the damage to your crops, take inventory of your health and that of your family. Don’t hesitate to seek help.

For post-storm crop management, check out the web resources listed or contact an Extension educator or specialist to discuss your specific situation.

Time heals most wounds, including your fields.

Keith Glewen
UNL Extension Educator


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