A massive derecho with hurricane-force winds tore across the U.S. Midwest on Monday, causing widespread property damage in cities and rural towns and leaving more than half a million homes and businesses without power.
The storm compounded troubles for a U.S. farm economy already battered by extreme weather, the U.S.-China trade war and most recently, the disruption caused to labor and consumption by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Winds as high as 100 miles per hour (160 kph) hit eastern Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin and parts of Illinois in the widespread storm classified as a “derecho” by the National Weather Service.
It toppled grain bins in dozens of counties and tore into livestock farms in Iowa, the nation’s top hog and corn producer. Bin losses, ahead of this fall’s harvest, could leave some farmers scrambling to find storage for their crops, said agronomists.
In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, global commodities trader Cargill Inc’s oilseed processing facilities have no power and are shuttered, the company told Reuters late Monday.
Rival grain trader Archer Daniels Midland Co’s corn processing plant there also is offline and being inspected for damage, a company spokeswoman said. No one was injured, she said.
The storm started early Monday and caused a wider scope of damage than a tornado typically would, meteorologists said. By Monday evening, it was moving east to Michigan and Indiana, and at least 500,000 people were without power, according to media reports.
Derecho insanity today in the Midwest. My goodness. pic.twitter.com/XGGubYYMf2— Dakota Smith (@weatherdak) August 10, 2020
“This corridor of wind went through and flattened corn and crops,” said Andrew Ansorge, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Des Moines. “We’re still trying to get all the information in.“
Agriland FS Inc, a farm cooperative in Winterset, Iowa, posted images of massive grain storage bins twisted apart and corn spilling onto the ground on Twitter.
My god. A friend in eastern Iowa sent me this photo of grain silos near his house. This looks like Frank Gehry. #derecho #Iowa #IowaStorms pic.twitter.com/wlZqEpfj54— Brad Masktastic (@Yeah_Brad_B) August 10, 2020
Heartland Co-op, which has dozens of grain storage facilities across Iowa, said in a statement it had sustained serious damage at 21 locations.
“Several locations are rendered inoperable and we are making contingency plans for managing the fall harvest,” the company said.
Brian Rumbaugh’s 450 acres of corn in northwest Jasper County got flattened by Monday’s derecho. Hear how he’s dealing with the damage and what assistance could be available to farmers on @KCCINews at 5 and 6. pic.twitter.com/EmGzhmHHNo— Chris Gothner KCCI (@CGothnerKCCI) August 11, 2020
Landus Cooperative, one of North America’s largest grain storage companies, saw damage at three of its facilities – including conveyor equipment at its Bondurant, Iowa, location, Chief Executive Officer Matt Carstens told Reuters.
Thinking about those in the farming community tonight. This is just a sampling of many cornfields across Iowa after the derecho moved through today. Absolutely devastating. #IAwx pic.twitter.com/PDwhNJUD7L— Tyler Roney (@TylerJRoney) August 11, 2020
About 30% of the cooperative’s 7,000 producers farm in the path of the storm, Carstens said.
The storm crossed where about 20% of Iowa’s corn is grown, Carstens said. “There’s no doubt we’re going to lose some of that,” he said.
Thousands of acres of corn in the Midwest have been damaged or destroyed by that powerful #Derecho. Its the latest setback for farmers who have been working nonstop through the #COVID19 pandemic. #iawx #INwx #ilwx @accuweather https://t.co/CGvpxCJBOa pic.twitter.com/AOeNESwRmW— Bill Wadell (@BillWadell) August 12, 2020
Yes, the massive “derecho” has devastated US corn crop, with tens of millions of acres of corn affected. As well, many grain silos and elevators were destroyed, and with them tons of “on farm storage” – what remains of the US Strategic Grain Reserve. Yields will be reduced for ALL of those acres, particularly where damage was severe or irrigation was destroyed. And thus prices will increase!
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