When disaster strikes

September 24, 2013
When disaster strikes

How freak weather events affect local farmers

We are used to some severe weather here in Central Oregon, but the two hail storms that came through in late August were truly exceptional. With hailstones of between ¼ - ½ inch in diameter and 2-3 inches deep in some areas, these storms ravaged crops in Madras and Culver.

Greg Williams has been a field representative for 16 years with Central Oregon Seeds. He reported 600-700 acres of damage to his carrot seed production with the first storm and 200-250 acres with the second storm. Williams is still assessing the total damage, but he estimates a yield loss of 25% to 75% on the areas hit by the storm -- just a few weeks before harvest.

When confronted with a storm of this severity, crops become defoliated, stems can crack and seeds shatter from their pods. Flooding is also a huge problem.

This is a serious blow to the 2013 crops and potentially very serious to the 2014 plantings as well.

Rob Galyen, another longtime Madras farmer echoed this same story of devastation. “I’ve been farming in this area for 20 years and have never seen a storm of this magnitude,” said Galyen. With 50-70% crop damage on his farm, Galyen says he is going to have to wait and see what this means for him in the future.

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