Rains making it difficult for farmers to get in fields

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, June 6, 2017

After dealing with drought conditions in the state in 2016, the recent heavy rainfall has been a welcome sight for many Alabamians.

But that’s not the case for everyone in Covington County.

According to Carolina produce farmer Brian Jacobs, the amount of rain that has fallen, and as often as it has, has made it difficult to even get into his fields.

“We can’t even get into the fields because they’re so wet,” Jacobs said. “We can’t get the nutrients to the produce because we can’t get into the fields. It’s counterproductive at this amount.”

In May, the Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Authority recorded approximately four more inches of rain that the same period last year at the Yellow River on Hwy. 55, and on Hwy, 94. Month to date in June, more than an inch has been recorded at each location, online records show.

According to the National Weather Service, up to 3 inches of rain has fallen in some places in Covington County over the last seven days.

Natural Resources Conservation Service District Conservationist Josh Elliot said that the amount of rain itself hasn’t hurt crops, but has affected the timing of not being able to cut hay or get into the fields.

“I don’t think we’ve had enough to hurt the crops themselves, yet,” Elliot said. “It’s just the timing of being able to get in and cut hay, or if you still have crops to plant. It’s been so spotty with the rain that it’s been hard to cut hay, you need three or four days of dry weather for that.”

Elliot said that dry weather is expected for the weekend but more rain could be coming through the area at the start of next week.

Jacobs said that 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch of rain per week is optimal because it feeds the crops the water they need without making it impossible to get to the crops.

“That way it gives the soil a chance to dry and not be too sopping wet, and the produce doesn’t get too thirsty either,” Jacobs said. “If we’re getting several inches of rain in 2-3 days and just a day to dry before it rains again, you can’t really do a lot with the crops.”