County farms unscathed by extreme weather conditions
By Jeff Whitten
McNairy County farms seem to have escaped unscathed by the extreme weather we have been experiencing.
Contrary to fears expressed in an earlier article in the Independent Appeal, almost all of the crops were planted.
According to Ricky Mathenia, University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Agent in Selmer, all of the cotton crop was planted and 95 percent of the corn crop.
Soybeans are still being planted, but 85 percent of this year’s crop has already been planted, Mathenia said.
McNairy County farmer and Tennessee Deputy Commissioner for Agriculture Jai Templeton said earlier in the summer that just about all of the soybeans will have been planted by July 4.
The wet weather also has not had the adverse effect on beef production that local agricultural experts had earlier feared. They had expressed fears that the wet weather would reduce the amount of hay being cut, but this fear has not been realized.
According to Mathenia, the problem wet weather presents for cutting hay is getting it in the barn without it getting wet. That is always a problem, Mathenia said. Hay cutting is a little behind but this just means that it will be a little more mature and a little less nutritious.
Templeton agrees with this, though he did say that “hay quantity and quality is less than what it needs to be.”
Templeton says that the reason those earlier fears were not realized is that things dried out at the end of May.
Some replanting did have to be done, though, Templeton said. The hot, dry weather of June was nearly a problem for crops, according to Templeton.
“We did get some timely rain at the end of June that saved some of the crops,” he said.
The weather pattern we have had for the past month or so of scorching heat alternating with heavy rain is also not a problem for farmers.
“This weather is perfect for cotton. Cotton loves scorching heat,” Mathenia said.
One problem with wet weather is that it his hard to keep weed control when it is very wet because equipment will get mired in the mud.
However, Mathenia pointed out that most spraying for insects is done from the air.
Templeton pointed out that rain is the key to continuing the luck with the weather that farmers have had thus far.
“We continue to need timely rain in order to be in good shape,” he said.
Rhodes Platt, County Director from the McNairy/Chester County Farm Service Agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, agrees that considering the extreme weather, the crops came out pretty well.
“It’s been one extreme to another,” he said, describing the weather.
Despite this, “All in all, the crops are in pretty good shape,” he said.
Platt said that most crops are planted now. Farmers were able to plant pretty much what they wanted. They did plant a little more soybeans and a little less corn than they would have originally hoped, he said.
He said there has been some replanting of soybeans due to wet weather and some due to dry weather, and some planting was a little late.
Platt said farmers are trying to “clean up” crops at this point. By this he means that they are spraying and applying the second round of fertilizer.
On June 28, Gov. Bill Haslam announced that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack had designated several counties a natural disaster area for agriculture as a result of the severe storms and flooding in April and May.
This designation includes McNairy County, according to the press release from Haslam’s office.
It allows farmers to apply for the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program to help recover lost income.
Other assistance such as low-interest loans and livestock loss assistance may be available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency offices.