Farmers face tough decisions after hail slams crops

Hail damaged crops
Iowa State University Extension field agronomist Rebecca Vittetoe, right, examines a hail-damaged corn plant with farmers Don Swanson, left, and Max Smith last week in Marion County. PHOTO/GARY FANDEL

Farmers held somber expressions last week as they examined damage to corn and soybean plants pummeled by a hail storm in southern Marion County.

A torrent of marble-size hail stripped the leaves off corn and soybeans along a four-mile wide path that stretched from the county’s western border all the way to its eastern edge.

“It’s the largest area we’ve ever seen for hail damage,” said Max Smith, co-owner of Smith Grain and Fertilizer near Knoxville, who has farmed in the area for more than four decades. “There’s a lot of anxiety about what we’re going to do. There’s never been anything like this around here.”

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