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Cultivator — January 15, 2016

December Rains Flood Pastures, Fields

Ronny Nicholson, who farms in Coffee County along the Pea River, said he lost more than 30 calves when his pastures flooded Dec. 25 and 26. Heavy rainfall in late December lifted the Pea River in Elba to 41.42 feet, the third highest level on record.

Flood waters have receded following historic December rainfall across Alabama, and farmers are assessing damage to fences, ponds, crops and livestock.

Ronny Nicholson of Coffee County, who raises cattle along the Pea River north of Elba, said he lost more than 30 calves in the Christmas Day flood.

“We lost some cows, too, because they wouldn’t leave their calves,” Nicholson said. “It’s devastating, but we just had a partial loss while other people in town lost everything. But the outpouring of support has been great.”

The Pea River at Elba crested at 41.42 feet Dec. 26, the third highest level on record.

In Twin Springs, north of Eufaula, farmer Allie Corcoran said late December rains destroyed an old fishing pond.

“It just ate away at the dam, and that 30-acre pond drained in 20 minutes,” said Corcoran.

Other farmers reported washed-out roads and downed fences. The rain also kept some row crop farmers out of the fields.

“We didn’t plant wheat because it was just too wet for us to even try,” said Scott Saucer, whose Monroe County farm received 10 inches of rain in 18 hours on Christmas day. “The wheat other farmers in my county did plant is struggling. We need some cold weather and sunshine.”

Limestone County farmer Paul Looney said his farm received about 7 inches of rain on Christmas day.

“It’ll take its toll,” Looney said of the excessive rainfall. “The early-planted wheat is in pretty good shape, but the later-planted wheat is suffering. There will be some dead spots, especially around the bottom of terraces.”

December rainfall totals at official Alabama reporting stations ranged from 6.94 inches in Muscle Shoals to 12.38 inches in Mobile and a record-setting 14.13 inches in Montgomery.


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