State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Farmland Gets Hit Hard by Thursday's Storm

by on June 28, 2013 5:26 PM

Less than 24 hours after Thursday's massive storm, there aren't any hard numbers yet, but the economic impact on farmers could be major.

Sarah Walter, executive director of the Centre County Farmland Trust, says she expects to see a lot of crop damage after a storm as stong as Thursday's, with whipping winds and heavy rains. Farmers who just cut hay will see it has washed away, their fields flooded and limbs of trees with fully-grown fruit may have been damaged, or ripped off.

Walter says they've already seen a "great amount" of erosion, from mudslides and huge gullies. A lot of people have seen road damage, with some gravel roads washed completely away. 

All of the damage will come at a great cost, Walter says.

"We've seen extensive water damage to barns and farm equipment. Someone called us and said the water was up to their knees in the barn last night," Walter says. Corn that had already grown tall was blown over, too. 

Fortunately for the Tait Farm, 179 Tait Rd., in Centre Hall, the damage wasn't so severe. According to owner Kim Tate, the Tait Farm market was "nailed" with rain and hail, which caused some erosion. They don't have an estimate of the damage yet, but she says the crops didn't take a beating. 

Walter says State College was due for rain, but the intensity and duration of the storm resulted in a negative impact on the area. Agricultural insurance claims could rise, she says. Even so, the area could still be under its average rainfall for the season because until last night, it was badly needed. 

"There was so much of it ... When you're getting erosion like that, it's washing away soil. And when the water is causing damage, it's doing more harm than good," she says.

On top of erosion, crop damage and equipment trouble, Walter says storms as strong as last night's often result in livestock fatalities. She says the strength of the rain could have killed some small animals, such as chickens.

The immediate impact is economic, Walter says. Harvests could also be impacted by the damage in coming seasons, but it's something they'll have to assess when the storms finally blow over. 

For continuing updates and the latest forecast, click HERE for the latest from AccuWeather.

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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