Cotton, soybeans survive Hurricane Sandy

Published 11:47 am Monday, October 29, 2012

DREWRYVILLE—John Claud feels blessed.

On day three of Hurricane Sandy’s rain and wind, Claud believes he lost very little of his 425 acres of cotton.

“I think we’ve been fortunate as far as damage to the crops,” said the 67-year-old Courtland farmer. “The rainfall amount so far hasn’t been that extensive. If we can get some good sunny clear days, I think we can recover from this.”

Rain from the hurricane began falling mid-afternoon Saturday in Western Tidewater. Forecasters called for a total of 2 to 4 inches of rain over the weekend and wind gusts of up to 41 mph.

Claud lost 100 to 150 pounds per acre in August 2011 when Hurricane Irene dumped 12 inches of rain in Western Tidewater and packed winds of up to 51 mph. The storm left cotton plants twisted and more difficult to harvest.

“I was worried about something similar,” he said.

Before Hurricane Sandy hit, Claud had not harvested any cotton from his farm in Drewryville, although it ready to pick.

“The cotton was a little late maturing and we were waiting for the proper time to defoliate,” he said. “It had just gotten ready.”

Claud had harvested about 15 percent of his 500 acres of soybeans before the storm.

“It’s just a matter of giving them time to dry out,” he said. “They’re very sensitive to moisture.”

Driving around his Newsoms-Capron area farm on Monday morning, Chance Crowder was pleased to see he hadn’t lost much of his cotton and soybeans.

“Everything looks fine,” Crowder said. “I don’t think we’ll be looking at any significant loss.”

He lost 25 percent of his cotton from Hurricane Irene.

“I was very concerned,” Crowder said about the forecast for Sandy. “I still had peanuts on the ground. We picked as hard as we could and were able to finish just in time.”

“Unless something changes, this isn’t going to be near as bad as we thought,” he said. “A lot of times they (forecasters) are right. This time they were wrong.”

Working 14-hour days to complete his 100-acre peanut harvest, the 28-year-old’s cotton was defoliated before it started raining.

“If we had gotten the 12 inches of rain, it would’ve pulled the cotton and it would’ve fallen on the ground,” he said.

Assuming the rain quits by Wednesday, as forecast, Crowder hopes to be back in the fields by Friday or Saturday.