County weathers the storm

By Katrina Vander Kooi, summer intern

The first major storm of the season didn't leave Rock County without making its mark.

Farmers in Rock County were hit hard by the hail storm Tuesday, June 12.

"I would say that one-third of the county was affected," said Fraser Norton, Rock County Extension Educator. "Mostly the damage was south of Luverne."

About 10 percent of the county has been severely damaged. According to Norton, more than half of a field must be destroyed before a crop is deemed "severely damaged."

The damage was mainly to the soybeans, because the corn plants had not reached the height above ground where they could be destroyed by hail.

Norton said corn should not be replanted this late in the year, but the beans can. He cautioned that replanting beans this late in the season will result in only about 60 percent of yield potential, but leaving the damaged field could still yield at least 75 percent of its initial potential in many cases.

This factor, and the fact that many families have crop insurance, softens the blow of the damage.

Norton also said that the hail will have less of an impact this year than it would have had last year. "The crop this year is not as good as it was last year," he said. "Germination was slow this year, so the crops that were injured aren't the best."

The storm impacted more than just crops. Road crews also were busy on Tuesday night as Interstate 90 had to be closed at about 9 p.m. near the exit to Highway 23 because of flooding. It was reopened about an hour later.

Visitors to Rock County also felt the effects of the storm. A group of students from Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Sioux Falls, were traveling home from a day at Valleyfair, when they were forced to take shelter because of the storm. For about an hour, the group huddled in the social hall of Grace Lutheran Church until it was safe to travel home.

Sixty-six campsites at Blue Mounds State Park were occupied on Tuesday night. Rick White, park manager, talked to the campers about safe areas and offered to lead them to those areas in the event of a tornado. The safest place for campers is a ditch.

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