As in most areas of the Southeast, Mother Nature picked her spots to inundate with rainfall and getting 10-12 inches in a week versus 3-4 inches will make the difference between having a crop and not having a cotton crop, Hagler says.

“In Hoke County there is a lot of real estate between cotton plants. As the old saying goes you can hide more cotton on a tall plant than you can pick on a small one,” he says.

“In Hoke County this year, there are too many small plants — the math just doesn’t work when you try to figure out you can make a good crop on that cotton.”

The biggest gamble and the biggest ‘first’ this year for Hagler was getting his wheat out a month or more late and getting double-crop beans in at least a month late. His latest beans were planted behind wheat on Aug. 5.

Typically, he has all his wheat out and all his double-crop beans in by the last week in June, giving soybeans plenty of time to mature before the first frost comes. This year it’s a real gamble, and the North Carolina grower knows the risks all too well.

“Planting soybeans in August is like a lot of decisions we had to make this year — you just go with your gut feeling and pray everything works out all right,” he says.