It’s never easy to predict the weather, especially weeks and months in advance, and 2011 has been a prime example. After a cool, wet spring across much of the country, most weather experts were somewhat surprised by the long periods of extreme heat in July.
“It’s uncommon to see such a big weather shift within a matter of weeks,” said Dennis Todey, South Dakota state climatologist. “The shift away from the recent La Nina weather event and into a more neutral position means we don’t have the typical La Nina-El Nino conditions to help form our predictions. So we have to fall back on trends.”
The one thing growers have almost come to expect are the summer storms that seem to develop out of nowhere. When that happens, the results can be devastating.
Just ask Tom Thompson. In June 2008, one week before he expected to begin wheat harvest, three hailstorms thundered through Byers, Colo., pummeling Thompson’s nearby farm with golf-ball-sized hail. More than 4,000 of Thompson’s 15,000 wheat acres were destroyed.
“When I got out to my wheat fields, the worst parts looked like someone had taken a mower to them and knocked them down,” he recalled. “My wheat was shattered.”
Weather problems also deliver regular crop production challenges at the Scarborough farm in South Dakota. “It seems like we’ve had crop losses almost every year,” said Marc Scarborough, who farms near Hayes, S.D., with his wife, Pam. Nearly three years ago, the couple watched a hailstorm roll over fields west of Pierre, flattening more than 400 acres of their wheat with quarter-sized hail.
“When the crop insurance adjuster arrived, he said he wouldn’t even need to go out into the fields,” Scarborough said. “They looked like a carpeted floor. The wheat was pulverized — there was nothing left.”
Recovering From Disaster
Fortunately, Thompson and the Scarboroughs made a decision months before the storm that helped them recoup some of their input costs.
As Thompson was selecting wheat herbicides, he and his retailer, Stuart Heermans with Flagler Aerial Spraying, talked about the DuPont™ Crop Protection Plus® product cost replacement program. The program provides product cost replacement when certain conditions, such as hail, make a crop uneconomical to harvest. It is available to all growers who purchase and apply qualifying DuPont products as directed on the label.
Thompson and Heermans decided to use DuPont™ Ally® Extra SG herbicide with TotalSol® soluble granules in their weed control program to manage mustard, thistle and wild buckwheat in Thompson’s fields. They didn’t know it at the time, but that choice was worth thousands of dollars when hail battered the fields a few months later.
“It almost breaks my heart to see a disaster like this happen to a grower,” Heermans said. “The Crop Protection Plus® program is a nice way for DuPont to help share some of the uncertainty.”
The Scarboroughs also selected Ally® Extra SG herbicide with TotalSol® soluble granules to help control their weed challenges — kochia, buckwheat and Canadian thistle — and benefited from the Crop Protection Plus® program.
“Farming is a high-risk business, but this program helped us in a hard time,” says Scarborough. “With the increased cost of inputs, at least we got the value of one of those inputs back when our crop didn’t make it; and we reinvested that product cost replacement in our next crop.”