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Storms, wet weather could cost state farmers millions

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In midsummer, farmers often pray for a good soaker; if they're exquisitely timed, they're often termed "million dollar rainfalls" for the potential to make a crop profitable.

This year, the relentless rainfall and waves of storms are instead taking a multimillion dollar toll on Minnesota crops, costing farmers rather than saving them.

MPR News reports a hail storm in southwestern Minnesota earlier this week caused widespread crop damage for farmers in Rock County, where about 40 percent of the county's cropland was hit. The damage will have a significant economic impact; the potential value of the crops is put at around $60 million, MPR says.

"Most of the damage is in the northern one-third of the county, about 100,000 acres, of which probably 55,000 acres are corn, 45,000 acres of soybeans," said Fraser Norton, an official for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Rock County.

According to the Star Tribune, estimates of the losses won't be possible until agronomists and crop adjusters can actually get out into the submerged fields, which won't happen until the storms stop. Some Rock County farmers are reporting that their beef cattle were washed out of the fields and drowned by the Rock River, which crested at two feet above its record level.

The newspaper reports farmers around Albert Lea are crossing their fingers that the water will drain off of their low-lying cropland. Corn might be able to survive if it’s submerged for a day but not much beyond that. Minnesota Corn Growers spokesman Adam Czech told the Star Tribune that he is hearing reports of crop damage across southern Minnesota.

The West Central Tribune reported heavy storms there dumped as much as 8 inches of rain on already saturated farm fields. The newspaper said there are reports of standing water on roads in Yellow Medicine, Chippewa and Renville counties.

Gov. Mark Dayton plans to visit the southwestern communities of Luverne and Edgerton on Friday.

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