Historic rainfall in parts of the Carolinas has severely hampered cotton and peanut production and has literally dampened the spirits of row crop farmers from the Florida Panhandle to southeast Virginia.

“This is a 100-year rainfall — something we haven’t experienced before, and we are in a real mess,” says cotton and peanut grower Bud Bowers in Luray, S.C.

Just up the road in Cameron, S.C., Monty Rast, who grows and buys both cotton and peanuts, says he recorded more than 55 inches of rain at his farm by mid-July — the average annual rainfall is just over 45 inches.

“We are dealing with a real crop disaster in our area and our best hope is that we can get some kind of regional disaster funding that will be needed to help many of our farmers survive,” Rast says.

Though the South Carolina Low Country appears to be the hardest hit by the unusual rainfall pattern, excessive rain has caused problems for growers like Michael Davis, who farms in Jackson County in the Florida Panhandle to John Crumpler in southeast Virginia.

Davis says his peanut crop is in real danger. “We plant our peanuts on our highest ground, but it’s still flooded out. This isn’t at the level of other places in the country — we’ve seen this kind of flooding before, but it’s bad,” the veteran Florida grower says.

In one 17 day stretch in June and July, Davis says he got 22 inches of rain. “It’s very sporadic in our area — in some cases we might get five inches of rain in half a day and 20 miles down the road, they may only get an inch a half,” Davis says.

He says his real fear for his peanut crop is that the weather will turn hot and humid, creating an ideal environment for diseases.

In many cases, growers have not been able to spray fungicides on a regular schedule because the ground is too saturated with water to support heavy equipment.

 

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In southeast Virginia, John Crumpler says the peanut crop seems to be holding its own against the wetter than normal weather.

“The peanuts have a fairly good green color, but we are in bad need of heat. Along with more rainfall than usual, we have had too many cloudy, cool days that will really hurt our cotton and peanuts,” he says.

In Virginia, Crumpler says the excessive rainfall has been sporadic — there’s been too much rain pretty much all over the state, but in only a few pockets have had excessive flooding to the level of washing out crops, he says.

In Dinwoodie, Va., more toward the central part of the state, grower Billy Bain says his crops look good. A little too much rain, he notes, but corn looks outstanding and tobacco and peanuts and cotton all look good for this time of year.