Moisture and rainfall affect Mid-Shore crops
EASTON — Around the Mid-Shore, farmers are feeling affects of increased rainfall in their crops, soil and wallets.
Most of the precipitation has come from increased rainfall due to Hurricane Florence, which devastated the North and South Carolina coasts last week. By Tuesday, Sept. 18, rainfall totals had exceeded the historical monthly average of 4 inches by 0.16 inches.
Dorchester County Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee Chairman Valerie Brinsfield said rainfall and flooding has impacted farmers directly this year. Added rainfall has slowed the maturation of crops, which has delayed other parts of the harvesting process, she said.
“For example, we grow sweet potatoes and it delayed the time of putting the crop in,” Brinsfield said. “Usually, we’re starting to har vest about now. Well, we’re going to be another couple weeks out.”
Farmers also face issues drying crops, which lead to monetary penalties, Brinsfield said. Corn used by grain mills must have a specific lack of moisture or they are paid a smaller percentage for the crop. Each mill has its own penalty scale, Brinsfield said.
Farmers have the option to wait to sell the crop when it dries; however, by delaying they also risk issues with future storms, she said.
If the soil is over-saturated, farmers can’t even use their machinery due to the weight, Brinsfield said. Farmers risk getting their combines, trucks and other large equipment lodged in the soil, she said.
Sandy soil might not be affected as heavily, whereas clay-like or other softer forms of soil might be untenable.
“Generally speaking, all farms have had some affect from the rainfall in 2018,” Brinsfield said. “You can har vest in 3 inches of rain, you can’t harvest in 6 inches of rain.”
Talbot County Farm Bureau Public Relations Officer Amy Priest said Talbot County had been largely unaffected by tidal flooding. St. Michaels and the Tilghman region had been the only areas in the county to experience flooding, she said.
Caroline County Farm Bureau President Glen Plutschak said the rain has delayed the planting of wheat, which is the first of the fall harvest to be planted.
Plutschak said with varying droughts and over-saturation, it has been a strange year for farmers. Preston went 35 days without rain at one point in the season, he said, which also negatively affected crops.
“The big thing has been keeping the corn dry,” Plutschak said.
Rain falls on a corn crop along Tanyard Road near Preston Monday, Sept. 24.