ELDORADO, OK (KSWO) - Southwest Oklahoma wheat farmers are dealing with empty pockets, and feeling jinxed by Mother Nature after hailstorms cut an unpredictable path of destruction through their crops.
The storm spread about 10 miles long in Jackson County, destroying a little more than 1 million bushels in its path. An estimated $6 million was lost in crops so far in the area.
The exact word Eldorado farmer Brian Thompson used was "devastating." He says they were just two weeks out from harvesting the wheat until golf ball sized hail came pouring down in the middle of the night and changed his plans for the season.
"You work all year for something and you lose it and you've got nothing," said Thompson.
More than 1,800 acres of Thompson's land was hit by hail last week in an Oklahoma spring storm. Thompson said his job is challenging, especially when he can't plan Mother Nature.
"That's a risk the farmers take, and you got to love what you do in order to do this," Thompson explains.
Thompson said he will rely on crop insurance to help cover some of what he lost. However, he chose not to have hail insurance like some farmers do, yet he still doesn't regret it.
"I have cotton, cattle and wheat and that's one reason for diversification so you don't put all your eggs in one basket," Thompson said.
Not only were farmers' lives and land affected by the storm, but the communities as well.
"This is an agricultural town," Barney Trammel, Co-Op manager, said.
Trammel said in spite of the damage, the amount of wheat harvested in Eldorado only accounts for about 10 percent of their overall crop intake, so it won't be a significant blow to the nearly 9 million bushels the co-op averages each year.
"It will hurt us, but I'm still looking at handling quite a bit of wheat," Trammel said.
As for farmers in Eldorado like Thompson, starting over and getting ready for next season is the only thing left to do.
"I'll be spraying throughout the summer to control the wheat and fertilizing and putting in the crop next fall and hopefully we don't have this next year and we'll take another crop to town," Thompson said.
Thompson said this is only the second time hail has damaged his wheat this bad in his 20 years of farming in southwest Oklahoma.
The hailstorm only lasted about 45 minutes, but still ruined 11 months worth of work for farmers.