08/20/04 — Heavy rains didn't harm crops

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Heavy rains didn't harm crops

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on August 20, 2004 2:06 PM

Wayne County row crops are ahead of the growing schedule on average and most still look good.

Bob Pleasants, county extension agent, said farmers are quickly trying to finish the tobacco harvest, because it has been affected by disease, including Granville wilt.

Disease has hit tobacco farms across eastern North Carolina. Some of the plants have died, and farmers had to spray the tobacco to help it mature so they could harvest it sooner.

He is not sure how many pounds will be harvested, but expects the crop to be a little short this year. Many farmers have finished harvesting their crop and it should all be done by the first of September, said Pleasants.

Farmers are picking corn now. Pleasants has spoken to several farmers in the county who have shown yields of between 125 and 170 bushels per acre. The long-term average is around 85 bushels per acre.

There is still a lot more to be harvested, and he estimates that only 1,000 to 1,500 acres have been picked so far in the county.

Soybeans are developing pods and blooming heavily. There has probably been enough rain to finish out the crop, said Pleasants. The soybeans were planted at various times this year, beginning in early May up to the middle of July and even later.

Some were planted so late that they did not get enough growth and do not have as much potential. Those that have matured early will be harvested in early October, and the rest will be harvested in late October and into November.

There is a good cotton crop on average, although some suffered from drought stress. Some of the cotton is opening two weeks early, and rain can cause the potential for boll rot. Farmers will be defoliating some cotton fields in early September, which is two to three weeks earlier than normal.

Wheat has been harvested, and farmers are still evaluating how the crop faired.

Pleasants said he is not sure how the rains affected sweet potatoes.

Some farmer's cucumber crop was wiped out due to a fungus called downy mildew.

According to the latest N.C. agriculture statistics released on Aug. 12, corn, cotton and soybeans are maturing a couple of weeks ahead of the five-year average due to earlier plantings and favorable weather conditions.

Flue-cured tobacco production is forecast at 342 million pounds, which is 17 percent above last year.

Burley tobacco production is forecast at 9.9 million pounds, which is up 39 percent.

Cotton production is forecast to increase 6 percent from last year and total 1.1 million bales.

Corn is forecast to be the largest crop since 1996, up 16 percent from last year. Yield per acre is expected to increase from 106 bushels last year to 110 bushels this year.

Soybean production is expected to total 42 million bushels, which is unchanged from last year.