Corn and wheat fields of lost dreams

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GRANT COUNTY, N.D. - At the the beginning of July, almost all the farmers in Grant County were anticipating bumper crops because of the abundant spring and summer rains. By the fourth, many producers in the Elgin area were trying to calculate the enormous losses to their "Fields of Dreams" due to severe thunderstorms.

When Wade Koepplin surveyed what was left of his bumper crops, he could only imagine the losses.

"It's probably the nicest corn we've ever had," said Koepplin.

He says by the Fourth of July his corn was chest high and he was anticipating harvesting at least 120 bushels an acre.

"The old timers say, 'If you have knee high corn by the fourth, you're doing really well,' well knee high is here and this was probably here," said Koepplin.

The devastating damage done by golf ball size hail and 60-mph winds has to be seen to be believed.

"On these fields, I don't even have to walk through them because there's nothing remaining of the crop. On a crop that has a 60-70% loss, we walk through them and try to figure out what the potential was," said Justin Mosset, Grant County FSA.

Mosset says the severe thunderstorm that caused this destruction leveled approximately 25,000 to 30,000 acres of wheat and corn. The 36-mile wide swath of damage amounts to total losses of around $4 million.

"It's not only crops, it's your pasture gets hailed out, it's your hay land gets hailed out, so it's more than even just the crop," said Koepplin.

This will be the second year in a row many farmers in Grant County haven't harvested a crop. Last year, severe drought prevented corn from maturing and forced many producers to bale their wheat for feed.

Koepplin lost only half of the acres he planted this spring, he's hoping to harvest the rest.

State FSA offices are urging producers to report acreage losses by July 15, or fifteen days from when the loss was apparent to aid with the county disaster declaration process.