Published 9:41 pm Monday, March 30, 2015


Recent rains are good for local cattle farms, local agriculture officials said Monday.

“The rains are good because it keeps the cattle grazing going,” Covington County Extension Coordinator Chuck Simon said. “As far as us having any hard freezes, that does more damage than the rain.”

Cattle farming is the second largest agriculture commodity in the county, and contributes an estimated $14.5 million to the local economy each year.

It’s important to farmers for cattle to graze as long as possible. When farm lands and pastures are ravaged by drought, farmers must cut into hay supplies to feed their herds.

Additionally, droughts prohibit farmers from cutting much-needed hay, which affects the season’s hay crops.

According to the Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Area Authority, March’s monthly rainfall so far is 2.890 inches at the Hwy. 55 collection point and 2.490 inches at the Hwy. 84 collection point.

Simon said the rule of thumb for farmers is if they get to April 15 — tax day — then they’re “out of the woods on freezes.”

“The books say it goes away at the end of March, but most folks around here think April 15,” he said.

Cattle farmer Bobby Jackson said the rains do help with cattle grazing, adding that at one point, it was quite dry.

“This rain is really coming at a good time, especially along with the warm weather,” Jackson said. “There have been a few days lately where it’s been cool, but it’s warming back up right now.”

Jackson said the warmer weather is making a lot of difference for the pastures because they’re turning green.

“It’s a great thing,” he said. “All of our cattlemen were about to run out of hay.”

Other than cattle, Jackson grows peanuts, corn and soybean.

Simon said the rains coming every few days are helpful.