Farmers happy to see rain

Published 11:59 pm Thursday, August 13, 2009

While many residents have lamented about recent rains, local farmers have nothing but good things to say about the afternoon weather trend.

Doyle Barnes, the county’s Farm Service agent, said cotton and peanut farmers are especially thankful for the series of late afternoon thunderstorms that have dumped an estimated 2 inches of rainfall each day for the last week.

“Cotton and peanut crops require a great deal of rain in August when the crops are fruiting,” Barnes said. “Cotton is producing bolls which will open and produce the cotton fiber; and peanuts are putting out pegs in the ground, which develop into the peanut.”

Barnes said both types of plants have reached maturity.

“And because of that, they require more rain to sustain themselves,” he said. “Plus when taking into account the high temperatures in August added to the moisture requirement, we can say the rains we’ve received the last couple of weeks have been very good for the crops.”

It’s a different tune than what farmers were saying a few months ago. In May, concerns surfaced when farmers thought that those rains would hurt their rotating planting system.

By June, the county was once again dry, and it appeared on track once again for a good crop season.

Barnes said the harvesting of cotton and peanuts generally begins mid- to late-September but could run “a little later” this year due to later than normal planting dates.

And it’s not just the peanut and cotton crop that are enjoying the benefits of the rain.

Chuck Simon, agent for the Auburn Extension Office, said it appears as if the county will reap a “big” pecan crop this year.

“Pecans need the rain to fill out,” Simon said. “And we’ve been getting the rain, so it looks like a big, big crop of pecans for this year.

“Of course, with the rain, it’s a catch-22,” he said. “On one hand the rain is great for crop growth. On the other, when you mix it with the humidity, we are seeing more fungal diseases. So, I guess it’s a mixed blessing for everyone. It helps the plants grow, but we will have some disease problems.”

Simon said farmers are still in the process of “bringing in” this year’s hay crop.

“The thing about hay is that it can get rain on it,” he said. “A little won’t hurt but a lot will, so we will have to see about that one.”