Weather presents major risks for any farmer and their crop.
For Japanese rice paddy growers, the unsettled weather and violent storms which occur regularly in Japan’s late Summer can be soul destroying.
Massive super-cell storms suddenly develop out of no where. The ferocious storms couple wild winds, flickering lightning and damagingly heavy rainfall. Precious rice crops can be destroyed in minutes.
Intense rain downpours at fall rates up to 4 inches/hr (100 mm/hr) and winds up to 100 mph (170 km/hr) are not uncommon in Japan. On top of localized storms, passing typhoons also bring further potential for widespread crop damage throughout the country.
The weather related risks for rice farmers are usually greatest just prior to rice paddy harvest in late August and September.
As rice paddies yellow, the mature rice plants become drier, more brittle and heavily laden with grain. The plant stems and leaves are thicker, but also more easily bent, broken and shredded under their weight. The top heavy plants are prone to damage from both flooding and high velocity wind squalls (and even the occasional tornado!).
Severe storms can leave valuable rice crops laying flat and broken, drowning in the waters of their own paddies.
For most rice paddy farmers, there are few more heartbreaking sights than seeing a crop which is so near maturity, and yet, so battered, beaten and drowned, it cannot be harvested.