What is in this article?:
- Heavy rains delaying crop planting in Southeast
- Making up for lost time
A heavy storm system that moved through the Southeast during the final days of April further frustrated farmers in the region who already were delayed in their spring planting.
FLOODED FIELDS LIKE this one in west Alabama were common throughout the Southeast in late April as a line of heavy thunderstorms moved through the region.
Making up for lost time
There is some good news. Technological advances in the last few years have enabled some farmers to work around these challenges, at least to a degree.
Charles Burmester, an Extension agronomist based in the Tennessee Valley, credits two advances — GPS-guided planters and treated seed — with enabling farmers to put seed into the ground within narrower planting windows.
“It’s just amazing how quickly they can get across the fields now,” Burmester says. “Guidance systems allow farmers to operate their machinery for longer durations and with the treated seed, we don’t have to bother with granules and sprays or with putting in furrows.”
Underscoring just how efficient these planting regimens have become, he related the experience of one farmer who managed to plant 600 acres of corn in a single day.
Minimal and no-tilling planting has offered advantages too by enabling farmers with heavier equipment to get into the fields sooner and without running the risk of being mired in soggy soil. Burmester says.
Weather experts say that it is difficult to account for the factors that have contributed to this unusually wet planting season. However, Florida State Climatologist David Zierden, says there is a chance that producers could be dealing with similar wet conditions in the fall.
Conditions in the Pacific Ocean are projected to produce an El Nino phase in the Southeast during the fall and winter.
If this projection plays out, Zierden says there is a chance that producers could contend with a set of conditions similar to the last El Nino phase in 2009, when unusually wet conditions in October played havoc with harvesting.