Recent rains have been both a blessing and a curse for Scotland County farmers, according to Randy Wood of the Cooperative Extension office in Scotland County.
Certain areas in Scotland County have received as much as three inches of rain over the 24-hour period prior to 8 a.m. on Monday, with most areas in the county receiving at least two inches, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
According to Wood, the wet conditions could mean increased yields for some farmers.
“It really depends what crop you’re talking about. Cotton, soy beans and peanuts are still in their growing phase and benefiting tremendously from the rain,” Wood said.
For farmers of corn and hay, the showers have been less helpful.
“For farmers of those crops, there have been really detrimental effects.”
Wood said that hay “hasn’t had a very good year at all” because of the frequent rain, which does not allow time for the hay to dry and be cured before it is bailed.
The more valuable, smaller “square bales” of hay, which are most often fed to horses, require time to dry. When hay is too wet, it is often bailed in less valuable, large round bales most suitable for cows and other livestock.
For corn farmers, the moisture means having to spend more money to properly dry the crop.
“Corn farmers love hot sunny days right now so they can get in and store their crop. Many of them are soy bean or cotton farmers as well, and they would like to get done early (with corn) to jump right in on cotton or beans,” Wood said.
Considering that cotton and soy beans are the two most popular crops in Scotland County, with cotton on top “by far,” Wood says that in the balance, the soaked summer of 2012 has been a benefit to the county.
“Ultimately we’ve been helped more than we have been hurt.”
If the wet weather were to continue, however, it could be a “different story” Wood said. If cotton farmers are unable to properly tend to their crops because of wet soil, there could be trouble for local farmers.
“If they can’t run through the field, that would be a problem,” said Wood, adding that in extremely wet fields farm machinery and tractors can become “buried, bogged down, and just disappear in the ground.”
While concerned about the continuing stormy weather, Wood said that most farmers with whom he has spoken are optimistic.
“Farmers in general are optimistic, and they have to be or they’d never survive,” Wood said.
The soil has, for the most part, been able to absorb the water so far this summer because it has come frequently but in smaller amounts.
“If it continues like this last two or three days, that would not be as good,” Wood said.
For others the rain has just been a nuisance. Friday’s rainstorm postponed the first football game of the season for the Fighting Scots. The team played Saturday afternoon in anticipation of more thunderstorms Saturday night.
Today is expected to be mostly cloudy with patchy fog early in the day. There is chance of showers in the morning and continued showers and thunderstorms forecast for the afternoon and evening. Wednesday will be partly sunny with a chance of more showers and thunderstorms mainly in the afternoon. On Thursday, the chance of rain is 20 percent, according to forecasters.
NOAA also recently updated its hurricane season prediction figures to reflect a busier hurricane season than initially predicted.
“We are increasing the likelihood of an above-normal season because storm-conducive wind patterns and warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures are now in place in the Atlantic,” said Dr. Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center. “These conditions are linked to the ongoing high activity era for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995. Also, strong early-season activity is generally indicative of a more active season.”