Lack of rain a concern

Published 10:20 am Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Peanuts growing on a Windsor-area farm are in need of rain. DALE LIESCH/TIDEWATER NEWS

FRANKLIN—Last week’s four days of near 100-degree record heat with more forecast for this week didn’t concern Peter Copeland as much as the lack of rain.

“The heat I don’t really think has affected me in a negative way as of yet,” said Copeland of Copeca Farms in Franklin. “We’ve still got plenty of time to make a crop.”

“My main concern right now is a lack of moisture, kind as if we are in the same pattern we were last year,” he added.

Jeff Orrock, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wakefield, said most areas in Southampton County received 2 inches of rain in May. Normal rainfall for the month is 3 to 4 inches.

June looks to provide equal amount of chances for rain as May, Orrock said. On Sunday, Western Tidewater, saw.25 to 1.5 inches of rain, with the greater amounts falling in north Southampton and Isle of Wight counties.

“We’re all due for some rain,” said Chance Crowder of Crowder Farms in Newsoms. “We definitely need to get us a shower of rain within the next two weeks. Anybody that had any corn, which I didn’t have any . . . that’s starting to suffer pretty bad.”

“Because of the dry weather the past three years in a row, I haven’t planted any corn at all, and that’s the only reason I went to cotton,” Crowder continued. “As a whole, right now I think everything looks pretty good because the cotton and the peanuts don’t take as much water as the rest of it. They fair off a lot better in the heat than what the corn does.”

Copeland also refrained from planting corn this season.

“We’ve just kind of gotten away from it,” he said. “We got to where some of the years we just didn’t make a crop. It turned out that one year out of three we’d make a decent corn crop, and the other two years we wouldn’t. I just feel like I’ve got a better chance of making a cotton crop year in and year out than I do with corn.”

Copeland’s main crops are cotton and soybeans. He is currently harvesting wheat and doesn’t plan to plant soybeans until it rains.

“Beans have a oil in them, and if you put them in the ground now where they don’t have access to moisture, the heat will eventually take the oil out of the beans,” he said. “Over the period of two weeks, it’ll pretty much kill the germination. With that in mind, I probably will not plant until we do get a rain.”

“We all need the rain pretty quick,” Crowder added.