Farmers in Newell hit hard by hail try to recover

Troy Hewson ranches south of Newell and suffered a complete loss on his wheat crop. Hewson says winds were reported at 93 mph and hail measuring at more than two inches.

“We shut down our irrigation at 6:00 p.m. that night, and by 7:15 it was all gone,” said Hewson.

Hewson said his wheat crop was one of the best he has seen in at least five years. After the storm he is taking a new approach to try to make a profit this year.

“We’re going to clean some wheat and use it as a nurse crop with some alfalfa and orchard grass and try to recover,” said Hewson.

Spring wheat is trading at about $8 a bushel while winter wheat is only at $5. While Hewson hopes to make a profit on this year’s crop, he also has insurance to recover some of his losses.

Farmers have a few choices when it comes to crop insurance. They can chose a Federal Multi-Peril Insurance policy that would cover many crops in different weather related losses. The program would use a ten-year average to determine the insurance payout.A second option is regular hail insurance. Neil Vollmer of First Western Insurance in Newell says many local producers chose the latter.

“I’ve always said, if you started buying hail insurance, you better continue it. You can’t second guess the weather in this country,” said Vollmer.

Farmers may take out a crop insurance, but that is usually used to cover their investments. Farmers in Harding, Butte and Meade counties have a hard time deciding on hail insurance because premiums are so high.

“They are some of the worst counties for hail,” said Vollmer.

Farmers hit by this hail storm won’t see much of a profit this year.

“It will be a break even year,” said Hewson “We’ll move on and keep resilient. Nothing else you can really do.”

Hewson says he expected to average 55 to 65 bushel an acre before the storm. Right now he is left with nothing.