Rains hurting farmers

Published 8:46 pm Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Rain can be a farmer’s best friend, especially in a drought, but it can also be a farmer’s worst enemy.

Some local farmers are hurting because of the excess rain.

Covington County and surrounding areas are experiencing rain coming from Tropical Storm Cindy, which was expected to make landfall in Louisiana.

Local produce farmer Brian Jacobs has been struggling with the rain on his Carolina farm for weeks, and the recent storm has just made things worse, Jacobs said.

“We’re so flooded out that you can’t get in the field to do anything at all,” Jacobs said. “We’re just standing in water and hoping to dry out.”

Jacobs said that some of his fields have standing water, which could drown his produce.

“If it keeps up like that it has and the ground can’t dry up, everything will die,” Jacobs said. “I have peas right now that are up in an area that was already wet before all of this water the last few days. So, now they’re stunted. Plants are like everything else, you can drown them in too much water.”

Cattle farmer Bobby Jackson said the biggest issue he’s faced is not being able to cut hay to feed his cattle.

“The rain is good for our farmers and cattlers, as far as growing grass and hay and putting moisture into the fields, but the fallback is that you can get too much water and too much rain at one time, and start seeing some erosion problems in some of these freshly planted fields,” Jackson said. “On the other hand, it’s also holding us out of the hayfields and the hay is getting real long and skinny. It’s growing longer than it should be.”

Ricky Wiggins shared the concerns of Jackson and Jacobs.

“We’re not able to get in the fields and do any work,” Wiggins said. “It’s OK for a short period of time, but it’s been wet on us for going on three weeks now.

“We can’t make our crop protection applications with the insecticides, fungicides and pesticides. We just can’t clean up the crop.”

Wiggins said that another issue is the rain can negatively affect root development in crops.

“The ground is so saturated that the roots don’t develop,” Wiggins said. “We have issues already but it needs to dry up a lot and quick.”

Even with the rain, Edmondson Farms owner Glenene Edmondson said that she’s still been out in the fields picking her crops.

“Everything is wet but we’ve been able to trot on out there and gather everything,” Edmondson said. “I’ve been out there in the rain, and we even have ‘You Pick Tomatoes’ right now for anyone that wants to come out and pick some for $12 per bucket.”

The rain can also have an affect when farmers attempt to sell their produce.

The Power Plant Marketplace suffers a bit during rainy days for multiple reasons, said manager Neal Dansby.

Dansby said that despite the rain, he felt the turnout on Wednesday was solid under the circumstances.

“We had about the same number of vendors today that we’ve had on most Wednesdays,” Dansby said. “It was a pretty good crowd of customers, too. Obviously, less than we normally would have, but under the circumstances it was pretty good. Even with the rain, people can pull up under the shelter. So, that helps.”

However, it’s the farmers that truly feel the hurt from the rain, Dansby said.

“It does hurt us here some, we probably had 40 percent less customers but the big thing is the farmers are hurt because the rain is going to ruin crops in the field,” Dansby said. “They have to pick them regardless because they won’t last in all this rain.”