Rain comes too late

Published 9:23 am Wednesday, July 14, 2010

SEBRELL—Monday night’s rain was a little too late for the 70 acres of corn on Bruce and Gayle Phillips’ Southampton County farm.

“Dead,” is how Gayle Phillips described the crop on their farm north of Courtland. “It looks a little better today. It’s not curled up.”

Chris Wamsley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wakefield, said Tuesday that even with between a quarter- and half-inch of rain from previous night, he expects a lot of damage to the region’s corn crop.

“We’re in a moderate drought,” Wamsley said. “You’ve seen a lot of corn that has dried out. Even if we got rain over the next couple of weeks, it will not help the corn crop.”

A look at the National Weather Service website shows that in June, the Boykins-Branchville area was the driest, receiving between a quarter- and half-inch of rain. Most of western and southern Southampton County received between a half-inch and an inch.

Parts of central Southampton County and southern Isle of Wight County received 1 inch to 1½ inches of rain. The wettest area for last month was the northern most tip of Southampton, which received 2 to 3 inches of rain.

Wamsley noted that in Norfolk 23.95 inches of rain has fallen this year; the normal is 24.17 inches. In Richmond, 18.21 inches of rain has fallen; the normal is 23.03 inches. The story is worse in Elizabeth City, N.C., where 17.47 inches of rain has fallen, and the average is 25.57 inches.

Showers expected last night and into this morning could bring another half-inch of moisture, he said.

So far in July, Franklin has received .36 inches of rain, according to weather.com. Average July rainfall for the city is 5.25 inches.

As for Gayle Phillips, the sound of Monday’s rain was a blessing.

“It was wonderful. It was a gentle rain,” she said. “We may have a chance to have a bean crop. I have horses and the horse pasture is drying up.”

The farm’s soybeans were looking better on Tuesday.

“They have a chance and are starting to bloom,” Phillips said. “If you don’t have a bloom, you don’t have a pod.”

The corn on the Phillips’ farm got off to a good start this spring.

“We had lots of rain so it grew nice and tall,” she said. “It started to silk and develop ears and then we had a month of dry. What we have now are small ears.”