Alabama farmers are busy regrouping following days of consecutive, heavy rainfall that foiled summer harvesting plans.

Mobile County farmer Jeremy Sessions planted 500 acres of peanuts this year, along with cotton, corn, soybeans and a mix of fruits and vegetables. The wet weather, he said, wrecked acres of crops that were ready for harvest and left recently planted crops susceptible to damage.

“We’ve picked most of the tomatoes, melons and cantaloupe, thankfully, but most of what was left in the fields is ruined, including a fourth of our corn crop,” Sessions said.

“You have to pick vegetables every day, rain or shine, but you can only pick so much if it’s too wet to get in the fields.”

Alabama Farmers Federation Horticulture and Greenhouse, Nursery and Sod Divisions Director Mac Higginbotham said rainfall exposes fruit and vegetable, nut and nursery crops’ vulnerabilities. Even covered plants aren’t immune to damage.

“Crops produced under greenhouses aren’t receiving the amount of light levels they need, which delays ripening and reduces fruit and plant sizes,” he said.

“In the fields, diseases and pests tend to thrive in vegetable plants; potatoes become difficult to manage or harvest; and fruit yields are greatly reduced by the loss of blooms.”

In addition to depleting organic soil matter, Higginbotham said supersaturated soils eventually could starve plants of oxygen. 

“Producers should watch for yellowing of the plants, prepare for delays in harvest and expect reduced yields in some areas of the state,” he added.

The potential for problems with Alabama’s peanut production was a concern voiced by Alabama Peanut Producers Executive Director Randy Griggs, who said a lack of oxygen and black rot are on the minds of the state’s peanut farmers. He said the immediate need to get out in the fields is essential to preserving this year’s crop.

Row crop farmers also have reason to be concerned by excessive rain. However, Federation Cotton, Soybeans, and Wheat and Feed Grains Division Director Buddy Adamson said wet conditions might not prove as harmful to crops as past drought-ridden summers.

 "Most farmers would rather have too much rain than too little, but standing water in some areas is creating unexpected delays," Adamson said.