The growing season in parts of the Midwest skidded to an early, icy halt Friday, the last full day of summer, with a crop-killing freeze that damaged soybeans, corn and other grains.
“It’s not a total loss by any means,” said Chuck Burr, extension educator for Clay and Webster counties in Nebraska. “But I think it’s pretty severe. It was 26 degrees when I got up this morning, and I’m sure that it had been there several hours, and that’s enough to kill off most crops.”
Temperatures across the Midwest dipped below freezing Thursday night and Friday morning, reaching record lows in some spots.
Some growers escaped damage. Larry Greathouse was up before dawn, checking the thermometer on his farm near Garden City, Kan. It read 30, not quite the 28 or less that agronomists had warned would cause significant damage to milo, corn and soybeans.
“All you can do is just say: ‘Lord, here we are. Just look after us,”’ Greathouse said. “I think, by golly, he was listening. There’s going to be some damage, there’s no doubt about that. But it could have been a disaster.”
The growing season had begun late in many areas because a wet spring delayed planting.
The cold snap “certainly didn’t do us any good whatsoever for our maturing crops,” said Hale County extension agent Bob Benson in Plainview, Texas, in the middle of 3.2 million acres of cotton.
“We still need some sunshine and heat.”
Benson said Friday it was too early to tell how much damage resulted in Texas, the source of one-fourth of the nation’s cotton.