Farmers Devastated by Hail


From Burwell to Bladen, farmers along a hundred mile stretch describe the heartache at seeing their fields destroyed by hail. Areas around Ravenna and Gibbon were especially hard hit.

Hail was reported along a north – south line more than a hundred miles long. Around Gibbon, damage is evident for miles and miles.

It wasn't just Gibbon. Extensive crop damage was reported in the Ravenna, Heartwell and North Loup areas as well.

Mike Wilkens was laying irrigation pipe when the hail hit. He said it wasn't the size of the hail, but the sheer volume of marble to ping pong ball-sized pieces that fell.

"We rode out the whole thing in the storm, so we knew immediately it wasn't good," he said.

But he won't have to water his crops now. Except for a section of soybeans, they're all gone.

Wilkens said, "Talked to a lot of guys older than me, never seen anything this widespread this late in the year."

Nearby, Leon Wilson met with his crop insurance agent. Jim Baldonado of The Home Agency tells farmers they might as well pack their bags and take a vacation, because it takes time to file claims, and farmers don't need to think about this.

Baldonado said, "This is about as bad as we've seen it in a number of years. There's some soybean fields you don't even know are soybean fields."

He says many farmers carry high levels of crop insurance, so look on the bright side, they won't have to irrigate and they'll get a check, especially if they added on hail coverage.

He said, "There's some fields out here we have coverage on they're going to collect $1,000 to $1,300 an acre because they had really good crop insurance."

Leon Wilson said insurance is a good thing, but not the route any farmer wants to go.

He said, "I don't know anybody that farms for crop insurance, but there's times we're tickled to death. We all pay and sooner or later we all collect."

Wilson said insurance is a necessary cost of business.

"I'm not in a position to take devastation like this. It's a cost of operation," he said.

On the Wilkens farm, they too will rely on crop insurance. But they'd much rather deliver to the grain elevator, with a crop that until now benefited from rain storms.

Mike Wilkens said, "Things were looking tremendous, beans were outstanding, but there's always next year."

Jim Baldonado from the insurance agency said the government won't even let them do anything for at least ten days. He said farmers who have damage should call their agent, but also take it easy, because it takes some time to get the paperwork going.