Farmers welcome weekend rain

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, April 25, 2012


COURTLAND—The weekend’s rain couldn’t have been timed any better for Southampton County farmer Ray Davis.

Up until Saturday, the lack of rain concerned Davis, who farms an area between Sebrell and Courtland. The rain came “right on time” for his corn and wheat. He also grows cotton, soybeans and peanuts.

“We’ve got the corn in, 250 acres,” Davis said. “There’s wheat in some other areas. The rain mainly helped the wheat; that was getting critical. I believe if things stay on course, we should have a fair crop.”

His plan for cotton and peanuts is for the first of May.

“The time-frame is right for cotton, but we’ll wait for warm weather,” Davis said. “Cool weather can be hazardous to the cotton.”

Commenting on the season’s early warm and dry weather and now the turnabout, Davis said, “It’s a little different this year. A mixed bag, but we’ll take it as it comes at us.”

Clarke Fox, who farms in Capron, grows corn, soybeans, watermelons, cotton, peanuts and wheat.

“The rain was perfect,” Fox said. “It couldn’t have been any nicer. It didn’t come down hard and was the biggest rainfall since last September.”

“The ground was real hard,” he added. “That makes seed penetration difficult, and without a proper amount of moisture, the seeds are more or less just sitting there.”

The rain was a big help on the wheat, Fox said.

“We planted the corn (a little over 300 acres). Usually the first couple of weeks of April we try to get it in.”

All the moisture has come right in front of the time Fox is usually planting cotton.

“It’s a good start before planting,” he said.

Southampton County Extension Agent Chris Drake, who also farms, said a dry situation has been alleviated by Sunday’s rain.

“We received 2 inches of rain over a 24-hour period,” Drake said. “This is what a farmer would describe as a ‘perfect’ rain. The rain fell slow and easy enough to allow for the soil to absorb the majority of the water. This will replenish the soil moisture adequately to allow for the timely planting of cotton.”

“It had gotten very dry in the upper soil profile due to a very dry and windy April thus far,” he continued. “Corn planting had become difficult due to a lack of moisture in the soil to germinate the seeds. Wheat crops were heading out and need rainfall to fill the seed heads out fully to ensure good yields.”

Without the rain, wheat yields would have been affected significantly and cotton planting would have been delayed further to the point of making it difficult to get the acreage planted in a timely manner, Drake said.

“So, in essence, the rainfall was adequate to replenish moisture to acceptable levels for planting,” he said. “We need warm temperatures to warm the soil up to 65 degrees or more, and a favorable five-day forecast to start planting cotton. Peanut planting will soon follow and coincide with that as well.”