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Winds flatten some bumper crops

Until last Wednesday, the summer of 2013 had been shaping up to be one of those green bumper crop years.

The corn was well beyond knee high by the Fourth of July, as modern corn should be. In fact, it was over my head and tasseling in some fields that week.

“Corn just loves warm and wet weather,” said Greenon FFA instructor Collin Gierke.

The wheat was living up to that amber waves of grain image, perfect, even, weedless and ready to combine. Soybeans were coming in thick. Our trees were full of peaches and apples. The tomatoes were growing faster and taller than the weeds in the garden. And the lawn was still in need of mowing more often than once a week.

Then the windstorm hit.

Because of downdrafts, and the topography of the land, some fields were barely affected, but other fields were virtually crushed. Corn was at a particularly vulnerable point in its growth.

“I’ve lived on the same farm for 37 years and have never, ever seen this before yesterday. It is so depressing to see my renter’s corn lying flat,” said Elaine Kingery, from the southeast end of Mad River Twp.

Most of the soybean fields I saw after the storm looked okay. Amazingly the wheat looked fine too. But the corn, not all, just some of the corn, took a hit.

“Hopefully people will have crop insurance if their corn is blown over and down,” said Gierke, who explained that corn can handle a slight bend, but once the corn is down at too low of an angle it is not salvageable.

If the flat corn is able to develop at all, it runs the risk of mold or being too low to harvest. If a combine is adjusted too close to the ground, it can pick up rocks, which can wreak havoc in its sensitive mechanical innards.

Sweet corn in gardens took a particular hit in the wind storm. Some gardeners try to straighten the stalks with mixed success. Stalks that have been broken off, however, cannot be repaired.

We lost a few pieces of green fruit blown off the trees, but it was amazingly few.

More than one person told me about unsupported tomato plants that broke off in the wind. Other plants just leaned at an odd angle or got stuffed into a new cage to keep them in line.

The garden plants taken out by falling trees and limbs, however, didn’t have a chance.

After one storm a few years ago, it was a big relief to see our rototiller still standing between the limbs of a downed maple. The most fruitful crop from that end of our garden that year was firewood.

Raymond Brentlinger, who has 75 acres of sweet corn in southwest Clark County , supplies corn to the Fairborn Sweet Corn Festival, the Clark County Fair, Deerings on Lower Valley Pike and Dorothy Lane Markets. Last year’s wind storms flattened 15 acres of his crops.

“It looked like a bulldozer had gone through,” he said.

This year was better, and the July 10 wind storm did not damage his sweet corn or field corn. That is good news for sweet corn lovers in the area.

“Farming is a risk,” said Gierke. “You never know.”

And that applies, I learned this week, to anything you try to grow. Last week I was bragging that my Shasta Daisies after 5 years of cultivation finally looked wonderful. Then the wind storm blew a window box off the porch and it landed, where else but, right in the middle of my beautiful daisy patch. Sometimes you just cannot win.

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