Colorado farmers say crop damage from recent severe storms will likely cost them millions

Posted at 2:46 AM, Jul 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-31 04:46:01-04

Severe storms have ripped through northern and eastern Colorado every day for nearly a week, putting a financial impact on farmers in our state whose crops have taken a serious hit.

Estimates are still coming in, but the damage is likely in the tens, if not hundreds of millions.

“I came out and noticed the rivers of hail and water coming off of our fields,” said farmer Ryan Boxberger after one recent hail storm hit one of his farms just east of Windsor.

Surveying crop damage this late in the growing season is a bit hard to stomach for Boxberger and other farmers.

“In some cases, it’s back to almost step one,” Boxberger said.

His sugar beets took a beatdown, defoliated by Mother Nature a good two months before they should be harvested.

“It’s not what you expect to have out of a crop you put thousands of hours into every year, but it happens,” Boxberger said. “It was beautiful and lush. Probably some of the best crop we’ve had here in the past 10 years.”

His corn is so severely damaged you can see the ground through each row – from the top of the field to the bottom.

“You can control your yield; you can control how you put up the crop, how you care for the crop. But you can’t control Mother Nature and you can’t control the cost of the crop,” Boxberger said.

Right next door, Darin Henry had to rush to get his horse-drawn carriages out of the hail.

“We use a lot of these wedding-style carriages,” Henry said.

He owns Mountain Shadow Carriages.

His horses found shelter and he was able to move the carriages out of the hail quickly.

“These things are hard to replace and some of them are hand-built,” Henry said. “So [we had to] get them out of the storm in a hurry. And none of our animals got hurt or anything.”

As for Boxberger, he’s keeping a sense of humor about the ordeal.

“It wasn’t a pretty sight to see,” Boxberger said. “But, everyone asked for rain and we got it. We’ll just keep pushing forward.”

While some crops will bounce back, it’s too late in the growing season for many vegetables to recover, like squash, onions and beans. And the bad news for all of us is that these crop losses mean we will pay more at the grocery store because there will be less locally grown supply.

The hail wasn’t the only factor in Sunday’s severe storms: several tornadoes were reported by spotters. National Weather Service survey teams said Monday they found EF2 tornado damage in Brush, where an airport was damaged, and that tornado damage near Hillrose is also under investigation.