06/02/10 — Recent rains shore up health of local crops

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Recent rains shore up health of local crops

By Laura Collins
Published in News on June 2, 2010 1:46 PM

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Troy Herring

Brad West, of West Family Farms in Fremont, examines tobacco crops that have grown and developed thanks to five inches of rain that soaked the area over the last two weeks. West, who also grows peanuts, corn, wheat, and soybeans, saw his other crops as well grow healthier and taller through the wet-weathered May.

The much-needed rain these past two weeks was a welcome sight to area farmers.

Field Extension Agent Kevin Johnson said it had been about five weeks since crops had substantial rain.

"All the crops are looking good in the area, they look fantastic," Johnson said. "This was much, much, much-needed, especially for the corn. Everything needed it, but the corn really needed the rain. A lot of the cotton was planted when it was real dry and the seeds were just sitting in the ground, they needed rain to come up. And the tobacco crop doubled in size."

Johnson estimated that in the past two weeks, some areas in the county got up to five inches of rain.

Brad West, of West Family Farms in Fremont, said his crops got about three inches of rain last week and two more inches on Saturday. West, who farms tobacco, peanuts, corn, wheat and soybeans, said the rain had a good impact on his tobacco crop.

"It helped tobacco tremendously. We had a bit of tobacco that was going to be questionable. If it hadn't rained, we would have had to replant it," he said.

West said since the rain, his 400 acres of tobacco have probably doubled in size and are now 12 inches high in some areas. His 1,000 acres of corn have also grown.

"It helped the corn a lot, (it) probably tripled in size," he said. "And as far as soybeans, we had stopped planting because it was too dry. Now because of the rain, we can start planting again."

The farm has about 1,200 acres of soybeans.

The one crop the rain didn't help was wheat, which has had a rough year.

"It came late for the wheat crop," Johnson said. "That's probably going to be a disaster. I don't know what we're going to get. It will be interesting to see what comes in."

The wheat crop is mature and in the southern part of the county it is already being harvested. West agreed it hasn't been ideal for wheat this year.

"The rain didn't help the wheat crop," West said. "I don't think it's going to be as bad as we're thinking, but I don't think it will be good."