Can you imagine a 9-minute hailstorm with stones larger than a quarter? That was the case several days ago in central Illinois when Mother Nature teed off and fired golf ball-sized hail at corn and soybean fields in a 9-mile swath that essentially obliterated the growing crops. Some of the tallest corn was at the V4-V6 stage, and soybeans had emerged in the prior week. For some farmers, emotions were hard to hold back, and everyone rhetorically asked, what do I do now?

There is no indication of how many had hail insurance but probably the greater number of fields was covered. A sizeable percentage of fields in that area have both cash rent and crop share leases, and most farm managers will obtain crop hail policies for their clients. Some of the high-dollar cash rents, which will exceed $400, will manage risk with the help of a crop hail policy. But anyone with substantial hail damage and a crop hail policy should immediately contact their insurance agent.

The University of Minnesota’s crop guide (a downloadable pdf) for evaluating damage and replant options says it may be several days before the crop adjuster arrives, and he may not come until the end of the growing season to see the extent of the damage. While most farmers will want to either replant or plant a new crop, there is a necessity of leaving a test plot along a side of the field that shows the damage. Adjusters can examine that strip and calculate the damage in preparation for making an indemnity payment.

At this stage of the growing season, and with planting delayed in some parts of the Corn Belt, the growing point of the corn may not have emerged from the ground. It takes about three weeks, and some of the corn that was decimated may not have been planted yet. There are usually 8-10 leaves on the corn plant when the growing point begins to surface. That may be a major consideration about replanting, since the crop adjuster will be looking for it.