05/27/13 — Official: Rain plus for local farmers

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Official: Rain plus for local farmers

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 27, 2013 1:46 PM

The recent widespread rains that soaked the county helped Wayne County's corn, cotton, tobacco and grain sorghum crops, but came a little late for a lot of what could be the county's largest-ever wheat crop.

Wheat, especially in the Seven Springs and Mount Olive area, was hurt by the lack of rain during the most critical time when the grains were trying to fill out, said Kevin Johnson, Wayne County Extension Service director. The wheat planted later will do better because the growing window was extended due to the rain, he added.

"Overall I think that the crops look really good," Johnson said. "The one thing the rain that we just had, in the county, it ranged anywhere from one inch to four inches just depending on where you were. I wished it had come a week and a half to two weeks earlier on our wheat crop. It would have really helped it.

"We are going to have a good crop, but it is just not going to be what it could have been."

About 41,000 acres of wheat were planted this year, slightly higher than last year's 40,000 acres, Johnson said.

"It is probably the largest crop that we have ever had," he said. "I don't think you will hear any farmer complaining (about the rain's timing). It had the potential of being a home run, but instead will probably end up as a good double, and we have somebody in scoring position.

"Other than that our cotton crop, most of it has been planted. A lot of it is up and it looks good. The peanut crop, it just depends on where you are. Some of them are done. Some are close to being done. Corn looks good. Considering that cold weather we had early on, it really kind of hurt our corn. It slowed some stuff down. Overall this warm weather and this rainfall have really turned everything around."

Final reports aren't in on corn acreage, but Johnson expects it to be 25,000 to 26,000 acres, about average for the county. However, it could be down some because of the previous poor harvests.

"Some of our guys are going to grow corn no matter what," Johnson said. "We have a lot of demand for corn locally with Goldsboro Milling, and it's a crop that fits well in our county. So it will never completely go away.

"Our cotton acreage will be down significantly because the profits are just not there. That will either go into corn or soybeans. It will probably be split between them, but I expect it will be more into soybean acres this year."

Johnson expects cotton acreage will fall from the just over 10,000 acres last year to about 8,000 this year.

Some of the full season soybeans already have been planted and more will be planted after the wheat is harvested in early June.

"Then we will know just how many acres we have in soybeans," he said. "We will have at least 65,000 acres of soybeans easily. That is always our biggest acreage-wise. I would say somewhere between 65,000 and 66,000 acres of soybeans."

Grain sorghum is an up and coming crop, but Johnson said he doesn't ever foresee it becoming a major one.

"But it is really fitting into our growers' rotation especially on certain land -- land that is a little sandy that they traditionally can't grow corn on," he said. "You can grow grain sorghum and it does make a nice rotation with other crops because we do have to rotate crops.

"Last year we had about 3,000 acres. This year I think we will have about the same. Our livestock industry is happy to have that because that is just more local grain and the more local grain they can buy, the less they have to rail in from the Midwest."

Since the rain, the county's tobacco plants almost doubled in size in about five or six days, he said.

"It is that time of year," he said. "It is warm nights and you get moisture. You get a crop like tobacco which grows very fast anyway, it has really made a big change since last week."

The county is fairly consistent in tobacco acreage, about 9,500 to 10,000 acres, and Johnson expects the same range this year. It varies because the county has growers who farm in different counties and rotate their crops in and out of different counties, he said.

"We will take rain whenever we get it and we haven't had too much," he said. "Rain coverage across the county but the amount varied, more Goldsboro north and east than other parts of the county.

"All in all we are in good shape agriculturally speaking, cross wise."