06/27/13 — Rain boosts Wayne crops

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Rain boosts Wayne crops

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on June 27, 2013 1:46 PM

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Valentin Salinas snaps off the flower from a tobacco plant Wednesday while he and other workers clean a field of tobacco of tops and suckers along Willie Best Road near the Wayne-Duplin county line.

Recent rains have boosted crops in Wayne County and surrounding areas, giving farmers hopes for a successful season. But the same rain that has led to what could be a bumper corn crop has slowed the wheat harvest and forced growers to wait until fields dry out to pick the grain and plant soybeans.

According to Tyler Whaley, Wayne County's field crops Extension agent, wheat is holding about 11 to 14 percent moisture right now. The ideal is 13.5 percent moisture.

"The wheat crop is looking good for yield," Whaley said. "Farmers have started back up harvesting after the heavy rainfalls we've had recently, and they're hoping to get it all harvested soon."

Whaley said that the rain has put the farmers slightly behind on their harvest, but that they are hoping to make up lost ground in a few days.

Since the wheat harvest is behind schedule, planting soybeans, which is usually done as a second crop after wheat, also has fallen behind, leaving some farmers to plant beans as soon as the wheat has been picked.

Whaley said the "best guess estimate would be that around 41,000 acres of winter wheat was planted last fall," and the harvest is expected to yield about 50 bushels per acre.

The approximate ideal time to harvest wheat and rotate it with soybeans is around June 10, Whaley said, so the farmers are anywhere from ten days to two weeks behind due to heavy rains and a relatively cool spring.

According to Whaley, corn has been getting a good amount of rain at just the right time in its life cycle to produce a top crop. Most corn is currently entering its tasseling stage, which is when the plant produces it ears.

Tobacco is doing well this season despite some early struggles, Whaley said. Farmers have had to adjust for the leeching of nutrients from the fields to the heavy rains. And the cool spring also caused some fields to fall behind but others are on the verge of being ready for harvest to start. Overall, farmers remain optimistic for a good yield.

Cotton, which has mostly just been planted, is also benefiting from the rain.

A few fields of tobacco were damaged by heavy wind and rain on Wednesday, Whaley said, but the majority of acres were left unfazed, if still too wet to get into.

"I've heard a few growers say that a couple of fields of tobacco were blown over," Whaley said. "But for the most part there wasn't any damage."