Despite an abnormally dry year, consistent rains in the next couple of weeks could lead to some great cotton and peanut crops, one local agronomist said.
William Birdsong, Wiregrass Research and Extension Center agronomist, said he believes this year’s crops have performed well despite some inconsistent rains this summer. As the area’s two largest crops – peanuts and cotton – approach their peak water needs, any dry spells will decimate hopes for a good year after a tumultuous 2018, though.
“Last year was a really good crop until Hurricane Michael wiped it out,” he said Friday. “This crop looks better than last year’s at this point. How widespread we fill in the rain in the next seven days will determine a lot. We are at a critical place.”
While most of the Wiregrass remains in a moderate or severe drought according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s drought monitor, the area has experienced good rainfall at times this summer. The sporadic nature of summer thunderstorms, though, has left southeastern Alabama generally dry.
For instance, while the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center in Headland received 3.5 inches of rain Thursday, Birdsong’s residence near Hartford only experienced sprinkles, he said.
“We had a cold front (two weeks ago), and most people got a decent rainfall,” Birdsong said. “That rain didn’t last long, though. It’s been very hit or miss. We’ve got to have some continuous rain. We cannot continue to make the crop with scattered showers.”
Birdsong said this year will be a boon for farmers if more consistent rains appear in the next couple of weeks, which is sorely needed after Michael crushed crops during harvest season last October. Farmers are still waiting on federal aid from the losses, Birdsong said, though he hopes some aid will be on the way soon.
A strong crop showing this year could help some begin to recover, he added.
The news is not good for all crops, though.
Those who grew dry land corn (without irrigation) suffered a total loss this year, Birdsong said. Those who irrigated their corn have harvested a good crop, he added.