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Bin cleanup on Minnesota farm hit by severe storm may wait until after planting ... if planting ever happens

Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux and other officials visited Minnesota farms on May 19 to take a look at the damage from the storm that blew through a week before. High winds ripped apart grain bins and mangled irrigation and other equipment as well as damaging houses and other buildings.

A grain bin flattened by a storm
A grain bin lays flattened on May 19, 2022, near Alberta in west-central Minnesota on the Joe Stroman farm. It was hit by a storm on May 12.
Jeff Beach / Agweek
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ALBERTA, Minn. — Joe Stroman says the huge storm that swept across the upper Midwest wiped out about half his on-farm grain storage.

But before he worries about replacing the storage, he has to get a crop in the ground, and he hasn’t even started planting yet. Then there is the grain handling system that needs fixing after the storm.

There will be a long line grain of farmers wanting storage and handling equipment to be repaired.

“It might be a challenge to get bins built next year,” said Stroman, who farms near the town of Alberta, south of Morris in west-central Minnesota

Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux and other officials visited Stroman’s farm on Thursday, May 19, to take a look at the damage from the storm that blew through a week before. High winds ripped apart grain bins and mangled irrigation and other equipment as well as damaging houses and other buildings.

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Mean talking in front of a tractor.
Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux, left, talks with Alberta, Minnesota, area farmers, from left, Joe Stroman, Luke Jost and Greg Fynboh, on Thursday, May 19, 2022. A tractor with a planter stands ready, but rain has kept the farmers out of the fields.
Jeff Beach / Agweek

Whitney Place, the state FSA administrator for Minnesota said producers in 30 counties in the state had been affected by the wide-ranging storm. The storm also hit areas of South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and North Dakota.

Ducheneaux was also going to be stopping to survey damage in South Dakota, his home state.

In Stevens County, where Stroman farms, one estimate had some sort of damage at 95% of residences. There was even a barn blown off its foundation, killing the livestock inside.

In one field near West River Dairy, a crew was out picking up debris that had been strewn about.

twisted irrigation pipes
Irrigation equipment lies twisted along U.S. Highway 59 south of Morris, Minnesota, on May 19, 2022.
Jeff Beach / Agweek

On the evening of the May 12 storm, Stroman was driving home as the derecho hit.

He said he could see the water lifting out of the wet spots in the field. “I was dodging all kinds of debris,” Stroman said. He decided to go into the ditch for safety and wait out the storm that lasted about 20 minutes.

When he got home, he saw a bin that had been flattened among other damage.

His wild guess at the damage was $200,000.

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Neighbor Luke Jost said he lost about 60% of his bins and half the roof of his house.

Ducheneaux encouraged producers to take make good documentation of their losses.

two men in from of damaged grain bin
Farmer Joe Stroman, left, and Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux look over storm damage on Thursday, May 19, 2022, on Stroman's farm near Alberta, Minn.
Jeff Beach / Agweek

He said the agency will take a “deep dive” into its conservation programs to look for ways to help minimum tillage farmers like Stroman, Jost and Greg Fynboh.

“We’re the crazy guys on the block,” said Stroman, who has been progressing to full no-till.

“Frankly we don’t have a program for this,” Ducheneaux said.

In addition to the wind damage the growers also are looking at prevented planting. Stroman plants corn, soybeans, wheat and black beans.

He said they have been “a day or two from planting” all spring, but then another rain comes.

Jost said he had gotten 7 inches of rain in May as of May 13.

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Stroman said growers would at least like to plant enough corn to fulfill their contracts.

Stroman doesn’t like to fertilize in the fall, instead preferring to “spoon feed” his nitrogen, but many growers have more limited options on switching to another crop.

While most of the growers in the county are strictly corn and soybeans, about half the wheat growers plant spring wheat and half winter wheat.

Stroman plants winter wheat between his rows of corn, like a “cash cover crop” and the follows that with soybeans.

If they are kept from planting, the three neighbors do have experience with cover crops that could at least be grazed.

But Stroman still hopes to plant and will work with his insurance adjuster.

“I might not clean up until after planting,” he said.

Reach Jeff Beach at jbeach@agweek.com or call 701-451-5651 (work) or 859-420-1177.
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