Rain boosts farmers’ spirits

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 8, 2011

Area farmers said the more than 6-inches of rain that fell locally because of Tropical Storm Lee was a “blessing,” and more could be on its way as forecasters eye a disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico.

Some farmers, who met recently with Alabama Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan as part of Farmers Federation farm tour, commented repeatedly about the need for rainfall.

In August, 1.16 inches fell on the county, according a report from the Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow River Watershed Management Authority – a total nearly six inches less than 2010’s August total of 7.56 inches. At the end of August, the county had logged 28.04 inches of rainfall for the year – a 9.36-inch decrease from the same period in 2010.

Doyle Barnes, Farm Service agent, said the storm’s rainfall is just what cattle farmers needed.

“It kind of helps in two ways,” he said. “It makes the grass grow, which lets us feed our herds hay later in the year; and it means that we should be able to get one more cutting of hay, which would put most farmers OK for their winter hay crop for their cattle.”

Barnes said the rain was too late to affect the local corn crop; however, it could impact the yield for cotton, peanut and soybean crops.

“It was late when the crops were actually put in the ground because of the drought,” he said. “So, that means they should benefit from the rain.”

Russell Wiggins of Carolina’s Wiggins Farm said while there was some wind damage to his cotton crop because of Lee, the rainfall was “well welcomed.”

“We got between 5 and 7 inches,” he said. “We were glad to see it. It’s really going to help the young cotton crop and the peanuts by getting that moisture in the ground. And hay – well, it was great for that, too.”