Wright County Apple Orchard Wiped out by Heavy Hailstorm

Updated: 09/04/2014 7:33 AM
Created: 09/03/2014 7:26 PM
By: Stephen Tellier

With summer in the rearview mirror, it's just about apple season. But Wednesday's severe weather managed to ruin one Wright County farm's entire orchard in one fell swoop.

For farmers, "hail" is a nasty four-letter word.

"It was about three-quarter inch in diameter, and it went pretty nonstop for about ten minutes," said Paul Nelson, farm manager for Untiedt's Vegetable Farm in Waverly.

And it only takes 10 minutes to turn 10 months of toil into trash.

"This is about as bad as it gets," Nelson said.

Nelson estimates tens of thousands of apples spread over 24 acres were destroyed. Some of them now look more like applesauce than apples.

"This was by far the worst hail event we've had," Nelson said.

The apples at Untiedt's were just three days away from being picked and purchased. Many were knocked right off the tree.

"This apple here probably has 35 hail pocks on it, and that's only the size of your hand," Nelson said.

The hail hit other nearby crops as well.

"I didn't find a pumpkin that isn't dinged. The field corn is all stripped down. It looks like sticks with ears hanging off of it," Nelson said.

The financial toll is large, but the emotional one is even larger.

"It's more the pride factor to us," Nelson said. "You do the best you can to try to have the nicest, most beautiful crop in the fall, and to see it all wiped out in a short time period, it's just really disheartening. It's really hard to even talk about," Nelson said.

Nelson describes growing a crop like raising a family member. Unfortunately, Wednesday was a reminder Mother Nature is the true head of the household.

The farm expects insurance to cover most of the costs of production for its destroyed crops, but they will effectively lose out on all of their potential profit.

Minneapolis/St. Paul

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