REGIONAL — Saturday morning's wind storm added additional stress to farmers and business owners across southwest Minnesota.
The National Weather Service measured severe winds around the area, with the fastest at 75 mph northeast of Windom. Although only 1.09 inches of rain was officially recorded in Worthington, a representative of the Worthington Wastewater Treatment plant — which measures local precipitation values — said the amount might be skewed because the rain was moving horizontally and therefore more difficult to gauge accurately.
The severe conditions affected farmers and business owners alike.
Liz Stahl, crop specialist at the Nobles County University of Minnesota Extension Office, explained that corn in particular is susceptible to wind damage, depending on a number of factors.
"There's a lot of variability," she said.
The first factor, Stahl said, is the stage of the corn. If it hasn't already tasseled, then the corn is more likely to recover. But if the corn was already tasseled, the storm will have more impact on the yield.
A wind storm that blows over corn can interfere with pollination, she continued. In fallen corn, it is more difficult for pollen to reach the silk and fertilize the kernel.
Additionally, Stahl explained, it requires energy for the stalk to grow back straight — energy the corn should be using to develop its kernel.
The extent of the damage also depends on whether or not corn has reached green snap. When plants are snapped off below the ear during this rapid growth stage, she said, there is "no way to recover." If plants are snapped off above the ear, there is still hope, she added.
"We don't want any stress on the corn at that time," Stahl said of the rapid growth stage.
She added that other factors that contribute to yield impact include leaf loss, root development, hybrid differences and shallow seeding.
Because many local farmers were late to plant this year due to wet spring conditions, Stahl said the younger crops may be more resilient to Saturday's damage.
"Hopefully this won't have as dramatic of an impact on yield," she said.
Farmers have already had a tough season, Stahl concluded. They didn't need another stresser.
"I'm hoping this is the last bad thing that's going to happen this year," she said.
Local businesses also experienced setbacks following Saturday's storm. One example of this reality is New Beginnings Garden Center southeast of Worthington.
Owners Leanne and Paul Langseth said they were both on their way out of town when they heard that the roofs of the New Beginnings store and greenhouse had been ripped off of the structures. They both immediately turned around.
With help from some nearby family members, the Langseths were able to remove the computers from the store and get a tarp over the building to avoid further water damage.
"It's going to take a while to determine the extent of the damage," Leanne said, noting that they are in the process of filing a claim with their insurance company.
Paul estimated more than $130,000 in damage just from a first look. He said that New Beginnings will be closed for sales for at least two months while they evaluate and rebuild.
Leanne said the damage is discouraging to the fledgling business owners, who are in just their fourth season.
"I'm thinking, 'Can I do this?' But I have to," she said. She remains hopeful that they can rebuild and become productive again.
Other businesses affected include GreatLIFE Worthington, which had a number of large trees on its property fall down from the wind. Cleanup of the course was continuing, with a goal of having the full golf course available for play by Thursday.
Municipal work crews labored to clear public streets and parks of debris following the storm.
Worthington Director of Public Works Todd Wietzema said that 10 Public Works employees used two loaders and four dump trucks over the course of nine-hour days Monday and Tuesday to remove fallen branches and trees.
"The Cherry Point area was by far the worst," Wietzema noted.
After the combined 180 man-hours of cleanup, crews are done with all except a few bigger trees that will need to be cut smaller before removal.
Wietzema noticed that many Worthington residents collected piles of branches from their yards and piled them up for workers to remove. That small effort made cleanup easier for work crews.
"We really appreciate the citizens and whatever help they can give us," he said.