Severe thunderstorms that ripped across the U.S. Midwest July 11 may have destroyed up to 550,000 acres of corn, although 100,000 to 275,000 acres was more likely, an agricultural meteorologist said.
The U.S. National Weather Service said the storms produced straight-line winds in excess of 70 miles per hour (113 km per hour), with winds peaking at 110 to 130 m.p.h. in Garrison and Vinton, Iowa.
After barrelling out of Iowa and along the Illinois- Wisconsin border, the storms crossed southern and western Michigan and parts of far northern Indiana and Ohio before easing.
The storms flattened cornfields just as some of the crop was starting to pollinate, a key phase for determining yield.
“Based off typically what we’d expect out of this sort of an event, a worst-case scenario would be five to 10 per cent losses in the area affected by the main swath of the stronger winds,” said Joel Widenor of the Commodity Weather Group.
Widenor estimated that roughly six per cent of all U.S. corn acreage, or roughly 5.5 million acres, was in that swath. Losses on five to 10 per cent of that area would be roughly 275,000 to 550,000 acres.
“I think it’s unlikely we saw that much,” Widenor said. “I would say something in the 100,000 to 275,000 range would probably be reasonable.”
The total impact of the storm, he said, might work out to a loss of 0.15 to 0.3 per cent in U.S. corn production, or 20 million to 40 million bushels.