07/09/12 — Record heat still threat to crops

View Archive

Record heat still threat to crops

By Aaron Moore
Published in News on July 9, 2012 1:46 PM

After a record-high wheat yield this season, Wayne County farmers are hoping for a little rain and cooler temperatures to bring in an impressive corn and tobacco crop as well.

Extension Service Field Crop Agent John Sanderson said thanks to so much rain and a warm winter, Wayne County harvested more than 35,000 acres of wheat -- a county record.

"We had a good growing season," he said. "We had good weather to get it off and growing. We got moisture and rainfall pretty much as we needed it."

But after a few days of triple-digit temperatures, Sanderson said the county's corn, tobacco, soybeans and cotton are "surviving," but that's pretty much it.

"For the most part, it doesn't matter what crop you're talking about -- when you get temperatures of 100 degrees, they go into survival mode," Sanderson said. "They're not reproducing; they're just surviving."

Ideally, Sanderson said he and other farmers would like to see temperatures drop below 95 degrees and at least one strong rainfall per week.

"We just need rain to go ahead and fill this crop out," he said.

Of all Wayne County's crops, corn is the most vulnerable to the heat, but even tobacco, which normally requires less moisture, could take a turn for the worse without a good rainfall, Sanderson said.

"If it doesn't have sap in the plant ... it doesn't cure very well," Sanderson said.

While wheat harvesting ended last week, Sanderson said tobacco farmers are beginning to barn their crops, which they will harvest in September.

Without knowing what kind of weather Wayne County will see between now and then, Sanderson said it's too soon to tell what kind of crop farmers will see.

"Tobacco, when we get to this point, all that's left to do is harvest," he said. "You do have pest problems, but it's nothing too devastating."

The worst that could happen with tobacco is high winds from storms, Sanderson said.

The county's cotton and soybeans can handle the heat better than most crops, but before long they too will need some rain to quench their thirst, he added.