What is in this article?:
- Some Alabama crops in make-or-break situation
- Crops an open question
• It’s as if everyone is trying to bail out their fields with a coffee cup as the rains keep coming down.
Crops an open question
“The 2013 crop is just an open question now,” says Kim Wilkins, an Extension regional agent in southwest Alabama. “
One of the biggest contributing factors is saturation, according to Wilkins. Farmers simply can’t get into a field that is waterlogged.
Much like the Wiregrass, Gulf Coast producers are hoping for a respite of at least a few days to allow the soils to dry out. Yet, in some parts of the region that’s not happening. As in much of the rest of the state, farmers can’t get into the fields to undertake critical tasks.
Some producers would just like to plant. Indeed, while cotton has reached knee-high or even taller in some fields, a few farmers are still waiting to get soybeans into the ground. In other fields, wheat remains to be harvested.
Up the road in west Alabama, Regional Agent Rudy Yates has already begun receiving reports of moisture-related issues in crops — white mold and leaf spot in soybeans, for example.
Crop fields in Linden and Uniontown have been among the most affected by the excessive rainfall.
“Once the ground is filled to capacity, you’re not going anywhere — the crops drown.”
Like his other Extension colleagues, Yates has seen plenty of drought within his career — plants wilted, and cropland parched so badly one could stick an arm into the cracks.
After all those dry years, he never thought he would be apprehensive about moisture, but this crop season has challenged this mindset.
Like so many others throughout the state, he’s hoping for a dry stretch, the kind that usually comes in July and that lasts long enough to allow farmers to catch up.
“We’re due for a shift, but no one wants the moisture to shut off completely either,” Yates says. “A week of dryness and then a rain would be ideal.”
If there is one Extension row crops expert who deserves the titled dogged optimist, it’s Charles Burmester, a regional Extension specialist in the Tennessee Valley.
Some regions of the Valley have gotten excessive rain, some not as much — the reason why Burmester says conditions in this region of the state can’t be presented in a broad stroke.
“We got 8 inches of rain in the central and eastern parts of the Valley, but about 1 to 1.5 inches in the western part, which was about perfect,” Burmester says.
Underscoring the mixed bag so far, he says the wheat that already has been harvested has been at record levels.
On the other hand, cotton has gotten so tall in some cases it also requires growth regulator applications.
Despite all of this, Burmester anticipates an exceptionally good corn harvest in the Valley. Likewise, soybeans are faring well in most of the region.
“You really have so much good and so much bad that it’s really hard to balance it out,” Burmester says.
If weather cooperates adequately from this point forward, he says there is reason to believe 2013 will be remembered as a good crop year in the Valley.