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Storms knock down some Illinois corn crops

JOY, Ill. - Most of Illinois' corn crop is considered strong this year, but farmers in western and north-central parts of the state may not fare so well after recent storms.

High winds, some 60 mph and stronger, and heavy rain knocked down fields of corn on Monday.

"I easily had a $60,000 to $70,000 hit in one night," said Ryan Mueller, who farms near Joy, about 35 miles southwest of Moline. He estimates that 30 to 40 percent of his 600-acre crop was damaged.

"The sad part is, hands down, this was the best crop I had going in my lifetime," Mueller added.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said earlier this week that 80 percent of the state's corn crop was in good to excellent shape.

The storms raked much of Mercer County, where Mueller lives, and other parts of Bureau, La Salle, Marshall and Putnam counties.

Now, farmers whose fields were damaged will just have to wait a week or more to see what happens next.

Crops that are still green and with roots in the ground could stand back up.

"Time will tell," said Joe Franks, an agronomist who works for agricultural supply company Growmark. "The plant is still alive. That's the good thing."

Most corn and grain farmers insure their crops against loss, but "not all have insurance for wind damage," said Duane Voy. He is director of the USDA's Risk Management Agency in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Henry County Farm Bureau President Dennis Verbeck estimated that a third of his 1,300-acre corn crop was badly damaged this week.

"One day, you see a beautiful crop, and then boom! Just like that it's snatched from you," he said. "One day you're a peacock, the next day you're a feather duster."

But by midweek, plants in some central Illinois spots that Larry Herrman had checked were starting to stand up. The agronomy consultant surveyed crops throughout Bureau, La Salle, Marshall and Putnam counties.

"I'm fairly optimistic about our yield potential for most of our crops," he said.

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