Weekend rain aids crops

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 7, 2008

The weekend rain was a welcome relief to crops in the Roanoke-Chowan region.

While soybeans, cotton and peanuts are in better shape after the weekend rainfall, it may have been too little, too late for the corn crop.

“We were getting to a stage where our fate would have been sealed if we didn’t get rain when we did,” said Craig Ellison, the Field Crops Agent for Northampton County. “Of course we need some more, but it was helpful for beans, cotton and peanuts.”

Ellison said most of the county received at least two inches of rain with some getting more than three inches. He estimated the heaviest rainfall was on a line from Occoneechee Neck to Pendleton.

Ellison said the areas which were in the most desperate need of rain were the western part of the county and the northern , down to Conway.

“It was getting to the point, for example, we were seeing cotton bloom at 12 nodes when it is usually at 14 or 15 nodes, so the growth is a little retarded,” he said.

Richard Rhodes, the Extension Director in Bertie County, said farmers there were facing a similar fate.

“Peanuts, cotton and soybeans still have really good potential,” he said. “Cotton is the most drought tolerant.”

Gates County Agriculture Agent Paul Smith said the rain was a beneficial to his county.

“The rain was a tremendous help to soybeans, peanuts and cotton,” Smith said. “It was a lifesaver for those three. Now, they all have good yield potential.

Smith said Gates County received between an inch and nine-tenths and three inches of rain and averaged around two inches for most of the county.

The concern all shared was the corn crop, which could be down as much as 60 percent, according to Rhodes.

“The one hurt the most is corn,” He said. “You don’t expect the hot, dry weather we had in June.”

Rhodes said in some cases farmers in Bertie County had mowed the corn and gone back to plant soybeans.

“There is a good chance that corn yields will be down 60-plus percent,” he said.

Ellison said the same was true in Northampton County.

“With corn, we’re not sure,” he said. “Some of it that was planted late the rains are going to help, but for the early corn it will depend on whether or not the pollination was messed up before the rain.”

Smith said Gates County had some pockets that had received enough rain to keep all crops, including corn, in good shape.

“We had some pockets that have been catching a tenth to half an inch all along,” Smith said. “All the crops in those areas are beautiful, but those are isolated spots.”

The corn in other areas, however, is not so lucky.

“Some of the corn that was planted early is beyond help,” Smith said. “What was planted late is an unknown, but it does at least have a chance to produce, not necessarily a good crop, but a fair crop.”

In order for crops to continue to do well, it is necessary for the rain to continue, according to the extension agents.

“If we could get an inch a week from here on out, we’ll be happy,” Ellison said.