Wet weather boon to some crops, hampers others

The Associated PressJuly 5, 2013 

— The recent rain pelting portions of South Carolina is a boon to corn crops and makes for happy cows in green pastures, but it also hampers wheat, oat and watermelon harvests, agriculture and weather officials say.

The rainstorms over the past week or so are a mixed blessing and present varied issues for crops, forests and the animals in a state that has suffered years of punishing drought, officials said this week.

“All in all, I’d rather it be too wet than too dry,” said Barnwell County farmer Jeff Sandifer. “It presents more of a challenge. We’ve gotten six to eight inches of rain since Saturday.”

Sandifer said on Wednesday in a telephone interview that the rain has come at a perfect time for his 200 acres of corn, which needs the rain in the final weeks prior to harvesting. He farms about 1,000 acres with a variety of crops, he said.

Cotton, his main crop, is “doing OK” under the conditions, but the moisture makes it difficult to apply pesticides to fend off disease, he said.

“If you can’t get into the fields to control the weeds, that presents another challenge,” he said.

The rain also makes harvesting watermelons difficult, coming during peak season when consumers want them for their Fourth of July festivities, he said.

“We will probably take a break to get a bite from the grill, and then head right back to the fields” on Thursday to harvest more melons, he said with a laugh.

Deputy agriculture commissioner Aaron Wood said farmers have told him that “corn is the best this year and the rain is coming at just the right time” to produce strong yields.

If farmers have been able to harvest their small grains such as wheat, oats and rye, their crop reports have been favorable, Woods added.

“But since it’s been wet the last few days, those that weren’t taken in probably will have to be left in the field” and plowed under, he said. “And for forestry, the rain has been very good for the trees.”

Trees that are well watered are more able to be pest resistant, Wood said.

In all, he said, the wet weather “has been great for corn. Wheat has been a struggle, and if you have your cotton and beans planted, that’s good.”

Wood said farmers with animals to care for report “their pastures look good and the cows are happy.”

Farmers tell him the rain has posed some problems, “but overall, they are grateful for the rain because eight out of the last 10 years have been drought years,” Wood said.

State climatologist Hope Mizzell said it may well seem that areas in the state are setting rainfall records, but in actuality no records were broken over the past month.

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