ISU Extension Responds to Wind Disaster

Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension
Iowa State University

Title of Success Story

ISU Extension Responds to Wind Disaster

Public Value (now or future)
(Impact:  Who benefits beyond participants and how?  What conditions changed?)

Improving profits of Iowa farmers helps to stimulate the general economy in Iowa. Others not involved in agriculture also benefitted from education on dealing with other wind damage in the storm, such as to roofs and trees.

(Why is it important to address this issue with education?  What are the desired changes?)

Cropping decisions need to be made quickly and ISU extension needs to respond quickly when weather disasters strike.  In the early morning hours of July 11, eastern Iowa was hit by a derecho, a windstorm with hurricane force straight-line winds, which flattened more than 100,000 acres of corn, snapped off thousands of trees, blew down grain bins and tore roofs off buildings. Winds were clocked at more than 120 mph in Vinton. The path of destruction stretched from south of Ames, through Tama, Benton, Linn and Jones counties up to Dubuque. Some eastern Iowa farmers had seen a similar storm in late June of 1998, when corn was flattened with winds exceeding 100 mph in a path that ran through Tama, Benton, Iowa, and Johnson counties. In that storm much of the corn suffered from greensnap, and yield losses approached 100% in some fields. When farmers surveyed their fields after this latest storm on the morning of July 11, some were considering disking up the fields, assuming there would again be a total loss.

(Outputs: activities, numbers reached, publications, products)

A survey done by ISU extension field agronomists on July 11 & 12 determined that the vast majority of the corn was flattened by root lodging and not greensnap, which meant that the corn would partially straighten back out and not suffer the catastrophic losses seen in 1998. ISU extension was quick to get the word out, through the mass media and on-site disaster meetings, that although there would be yield losses, the loss would be much less than what most farmers were anticipating. Over 100 attended a wind disaster meeting on the John Olson farm near Vinton on July14, and education on what problems to expect from the crop damage and how to harvest the corn was offered by ISU extension on radio, in online newsletters, in newspapers, and on TV, including a spot I did on the nationally broadcast Market to Market show on public TV.

RESULTS (Outcomes:  specific changes that occurred in Learning, Actions, Conditions; how outcomes were measured)

Several corn producers commented to me that they had heard me on the radio shortly after the storm and were relieved to hear that things weren’t as bad as they looked. Within a few days corn fields were looking much better, so it was obvious that fields shouldn’t be disked up. At the end of the season, farmers reported that although harvesting the corn was difficult and took extra time, the corn yields were still good.

Desired Changes

Farmers learned that corn yields would still be good, so learned not to make major changes in planned inputs and learned how to safely harvest the crop.

Extension Lead(s)
(name, position, counties served, contact information)

Jim Fawcett, Field Agronomist, Tama, Benton, Linn, Buchanan, Jones, Poweshiek, Iowa, Johnson, Keokuk, Washington Counties,

Your Position

­­­­­__X___Field                                        _____Campus                         _____Both

POW # and Team

 ­­­­­__X___100 Corn and Soybean Production and Protection
­­­­­_____ 110 Dairy
­­­­­_____ 120 Farm and Business Management
­­­­­_____ 130 Horticulture: Commercial and Consumer
­­­­­_____ 140 Iowa Beef Center
­­­­­_____ 150 Iowa Pork Industry Center
­­­­­_____ 160 Natural Resources and Stewardship

ANR Priority (select all that apply)

­­­­­__X___Global Food Security and Hunger
­­­­­_____Regional Food Systems
­­­­­_____Natural Resources & Environmental Stewardship
­­­­­_____Food Safety
­­­­­_____Sustainable Energy – Biofuels & Biobased Products
­­­­­_____Climate Change

Knowledge Areas: (USDA categories)


Continuing Story

__X___ No                _____  Yes (If continuing, what story?)

Major Partners or Collaborators


Where story took place
(Region, campus, multi-regional)

SE Iowa

Fiscal Year


Multi-state or Integrated (Ext + Research)


Funding Source



Wind disaster

Page last updated: March 22, 2012
Page maintained by Julie Honeick,