Rain Postpones Planting, Concerns Climb
Continued rainfall and waterlogged fields have prevented some Alabama farmers from completing planting, and forecasts show little respite from the rain.
In south Alabama, more than 4 inches of rain have already fallen this June in Fairhope, said Alabama Extension’s Kim Wilkins. She estimates 15-20 percent of southwest Alabama fields destined for cotton and soybeans are not planted.
“For me, it’s starting to get more critical because we’d like to have finished planting by the first week of June,” said Wilkins, an agronomic crops regional Extension agent. “The few days it hasn’t rained, it’s so wet we can’t get in the field.”
As of mid-June, Escambia County farmer Kevin Holland had 25 percent of his cotton and peanut crops left to plant. He said he could wrap up planting with a few good, rain-free days.
“Timeliness is everything,” Holland said. “The difference between a good farmer and a great farmer is two days.”
About 300 miles north of Holland’s farm, some Jackson County farmers have nearly 500 acres to plant or replant due to heavy rains. Woodville’s Mike Neal replanted about 450 acres of soybeans after 10 inches of rain fell in one week.
“You can’t control Mother Nature,” he said. “It’s just one factor farmers have to deal with.”
Rain is affecting planted crops, too, since farmers are unable to maneuver equipment into saturated fields to spray for weeds or pests.
Effects could carry over into harvest, with fewer daylight hours and the possibility of early frost. Tropical storms brewing in the Gulf of Mexico are also a concern. Harvest could be delayed up to a month if heavy rainfall continues into autumn, Neal said.