Record rain, hail, frost take toll on northeast Colorado crops

Too much water in Morgan County, Colo.

Too much water in Morgan County, Colo.

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MORGAN COUNTY, Colo. -- For years, rain has been in short supply in northeast Colorado, but after an unprecedented month of rain, many farmers are hoping it finally stops.

Agriculture is the biggest industry in Morgan County, and for the past month most of the business has been under water.

“I never thought I would ever say I’ve had enough rain, but this year I have,” said Dan Kendrick, who has farmed in Morgan County all his life.

At a time when he would normally be getting ready to cut his alfalfa, Kendrick is now cutting his losses.

“The brown stuff is dead,” he said, pointing to a large swath of his field which was flooded multiple times this month.

While some of Kendricks crops are already lost for the year, more than half of them haven’t even started.

“There’s probably been two days since the 25th of April or so where we’ve been able to plant,” Kendrick said.

Morgan County averages about 15 inches of rain a year, but parts of the county saw 25 inches of rain in May alone.

“Even the old-timers I’ve talked to haven’t seen anything like this," Kendrick said. "More moisture than we’ve ever had in the month of May.”

The few crops that have managed to grow are behind schedule and could be in jeopardy, and it's not just because of rain.

"You can see we had some hail damage," said Marlin Eisenach, with the CSU Morgan County Extension Office. "And then we did have some frost damage, so this corn has really taken a beating.”

Though the rain has been good for cattle and the long-term water table, many are simply hoping they can string together some dry days because every day lost will mean lost yields and money come fall.

“There will be an economic impact for sure," Kendrick said. "It’s going to be a tougher year for everybody.”

And that doesn't just include farmers.

“When farmers make money, it’s turned over seven times in your local county, so that can affect a lot of businesses,” Eisenach said. “It’s going to be a tough road for a while.”

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