Iowa Public Television


Winter Storm Wallops Farm Country

posted on December 10, 2009

Although "old man winter" hasn't OFFICIALLY arrived yet, a massive winter storm blew across the U.S. this week leaving mountains of snow, blizzard conditions, and subzero wind chills in its wake.

At least 17 deaths have been blamed on the storm which stretched from the Midwest to New England.

More than a foot of snow fell in a dozen states Nearly 20 inches of snow fell in Wisconsin. Parts of Iowa received 16 inches. And the 10.5 inches that fell in Nebraska were the most snow the Cornhusker State has seen in December in 50 years.

And while the weather was fit for neither man nor beast, it was especially disheartening for those farmers who are now months behind on harvest.

Winter Storm Wallops Farm Country

Record snowfall walloped the Midwest this week, blanketing communities and farm fields across the grain belt. Midsections of Iowa received the largest 24-hour snowfall in 38 years as interstate travel reached a standstill. But as bad as conditions were for travelers, they are even more perilous for farmers months behind on harvest.

A one-two punch of wet fall conditions and early winter snow leaves millions of bushels of the U.S. corn crop waiting to be harvested. Wet conditions prevented many farmers from entering their fields in October and sent grain dryers into overdrive throughout November.

According to USDA, 88 percent of Nebraska's corn harvest is complete while 94 percent of the Iowa corn crop is in the bin. But that remaining 6 percent in Iowa still represents about 800,000 acres of standing corn.

Harvest is even further behind in the Dakotas. South Dakota's corn harvest is 73 percent complete but only 53 percent of North Dakota's crop has been harvested. Without an unseasonable winter thaw, some corn could remain standing well into 2010. According to a University of Wisconsin study, corn harvested in April yields 24 percent less than it would have in October.


Tags: agriculture corn crops news snow storms weather winter