“We hope Earl does exactly what the weather forecasters say it’s going to do, but it won’t take much movement our way to cause real problems for our farmers, says Pantego, N.C., grower Gary Respess.         

“It’s already been a wild year here, we just finished picking some early cotton and we harvested some of our soybeans in August. The hurricane is just one more adventure for this cropping year,” he adds.                                                                                               In terms of getting ready for a hurricane, it’s a helpless feeling says Southeast Virginia consultant Wendell Cooper. “There’s just not much a grower can do, but keep himself safe and evaluate his crops when the storm is gone.”

Cooper says growers need to get in the field as soon as possible after the storm runs its course. Defoliation will be a big concern. Fortunately southeast Virginia isn’t projected to get as much of the force of the storm as northeastern North Carolina. Still, Cooper says most of the Virginia crop is ready or nearly ready for defoliation and timing that properly will be a big challenge.

Cotton acreage is up 15-20 percent from last year in northeast North Carolina and the crop is in varying states of maturity, which will be a challenge for growers in the hurricane’s path.

Respess says his biggest concern is from wind damage that causes cotton to mat together. “When you pick it, the cotton pulls apart and bolls start flying everywhere. Really, there’s not much we can do, but hope the storm veers to the north and east and only brushes the coastline.        

Right now, the North Carolina grower says, all you can do is watch the weather and hope for the best.

e-mail: rroberson@farmpress.com