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Farming in between the rains

To say it’s been a wet spring in North Carolina is an understatement. That’s good news for farm boys in muck boots who love to jump in muddy puddles, but not such good news for farmers trying to get crops planted.  

Over the last three weeks, we’ve been out of the field more than we’ve been able to get in it. There seems to be a pattern this planting season. We have a day or two of good weather followed by rain and several days waiting for fields to dry out. When we finally get back in the field, the pattern repeats.

We weren’t sure any corn seed would make it into the ground, but we did manage to get some areas planted, although it was less than we planned. Normally, we start planting corn the last week of March; thiis year, it was April 17. We like to be done planting corn by the last of April, but this year, the planter stopped on May 15. Some fields had to be replanted because rains came right after planting, compacting the ground so much the seeds couldn’t get the air they needed to germinate.  

We’ve been trying to finish planting the last of our first-crop soybeans for two weeks, but it hasn’t been dry enough. If we didn’t have two planters (one we bought this year for situations just like this), we’d be even further behind. It would take one day to finish planting soybeans, if we could just get one good day.  

Workers were in tobacco fields at the start of the week digging trenches to drain water from between the rows. Even though the plants are set on raised beds, they can still drown if water sits and smothers the roots.  

Sunday afternoon, my farmer was mowing sweet potato beds, the plants we will cut and transplant to make this year’s swee tpotato crop. It was a task that was overdue, but Sunday was the first time it had been dry enough to get a tractor in the field.

The rains are holding off for now, but there’s a chance of thunderstorms in the forecast the next three days. Meanwhile, we’ll keep on farming.  

Tip of the Day

Agronomy Tip: Plan for In-Season Fertility and Tissue Sampling

A bird's eye view of a corn field. Do tissue sampling in-season and make any micronutrient applications or side dressing as necessary.

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