Derecho Devastation in Iowa

I was planning to post about an easy and thrifty way to can pickles that taste like expensive deli pickles.

But instead I must discuss the Disastrous Derecho (Source: weather.gov) that blew in on August 10, 2020 that has brought Midwest farmers to their knees. (We were one of few that missed devastation, where the epicenter was less than 20 miles away. We are stunned the Derecho went around our tiny spot in the state.)

The Derecho That Hit the Midwest

Derecho. (Pronounced dr-ei-cho). For decades on the farm we called this type of weather phenomenon Straight Line Winds. August 10, 2020 gave many Midwest farmers a lesson in Spanish that will be forever etched in our collective minds.

Map of 2020 Midwest Derecho
The red and yellow on the map from weather.gov indicate really bad stuff!

The word Derecho was originated in 1888 by Dr. Gustavus Hinrichs, physics professor from the University of Iowa, describing straight-line winds, using a Spanish word meaning “straight ahead”. (Source: noaa.gov) The Spanish word “Tornar”, means “to turn”, and is the basis of the word “tornado”.

It makes sense the word Derecho originated in Iowa, because Iowa was a recipient of a historic Derecho. Can you say Gatos Santos? (That’s Holy Cats in Spanish.)

Iowa Farmers Lose Billions in the Derecho of 2020

10 million of acres of corn in Iowa were damaged or destroyed by this Derecho. (Source: Fox Business)

Let that sink in. 10. Million. Acres.

Of the 23 million acres Iowa farmers planted in corn and beans this spring, they stand to lose 43 percent of what they hoped would be a break-even crop this fall. Farm commodity prices have been depressed for several years because of NAFTA. Covid-19 bludgeoned already dismal commodity pricing, and then days later an oil price war was waged between Russia and Saudi Arabia, hammering the price of ethanol, a corn based product. Midwest farmers can only be beaten down so many times until they lay bloody on the ground they have poured their lives and souls into.

Previously, I wrote about the gamble of farming.  Insurance will never ever cover the actual cost to farm. It just helps keep a farm afloat. This Derecho could sink some ships.

This Gatos Santos Derecho is beyond the gamble of farming. There is a predicted loss of 10 million acres, which is estimated to be 1 billion bushels of corn. At $3.40 a bushel, Iowa farmers alone have lost $3.4 billion dollars. (Source: The Weather Channel)

That’s 3.4 billion with a B! By the way, my pocket calculator couldn’t handle that staggering number, and Iowa farmers can’t handle this staggering loss either!

The winds blew off roofs, knocked out power, twisted grain bins and then blew them out to flattened fields. (Source: The Weather Channel) Pain, upon pain, upon pain.

Twisted Corn From 2020 Derecho
When a corn plant dies, it either becomes silage or garbage. It will become apparent in a matter of days.

Derecho Destruction and Death

If a corn plant is knocked over, the brace root could stabilize the plant and the sun could possibly gooseneck the corn plant back up, but the plant is compromised and considered downed corn. Downed corn presents a very difficult harvesting issue. Jumping down from a combine to manually push a corn plant into the machine for it to strip the plant and cob is a very scary situation. This puts life and limb at risk. It also grinds the harvesting process to a halt. Harvesting downed corn quadruples the time needed to get a crop in. Now, multiply that by 10 million.

Close Up of Brace Roots
This is a close-up of healthy corn brace roots. If the corn plant brace roots are pulled up from the ground, the plant dies.

If a corn stalk is snapped, the ear will die. It’s August. The millions of acres of corn broken by the Derecho are not fully formed and will wither and die. There are not enough animals around to eat billions of bushels of silage. This is an economy of scale beyond description. An economy of scale of insurmountable sadness.

Snapped Corn Plant
This is a photo of corn plants snapped from the 2020 Derecho. They will never mature and will die.

Because this is a blog about being a small scale farmer in Iowa, I’m not going into great detail about the losses in cities and towns from South Dakota to Ohio. But you must know the misery people in these cities and towns are experiencing is just awful! The city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa (near where we live) was hardest hit by the Derecho.

Information About Cedar Rapids, IA Derecho Devastation

Links to Help the People of Cedar Rapids, IA

If you’d like to help the people of Cedar Rapids, IA, here are some links.

Please pray for us all!

Be Blessed.