No calm before the storm for farmers

Isaias, now a tropical storm but expected to be upgraded to hurricane status, is headed for North Carolina this week. This isn’t the first storm we’ve weathered so hurricane preparation isn’t new, but it does mean there’s no calm before the storm for farmers.

We have tobacco, corn, sweet potatoes, and soybeans in the field. Tobacco is the only crop we are harvesting right now, so my husband had to decide if we keep harvesting the leaves and putting them in the barn to cure. The rain might not damage the crop, but the wind can destroy it. We’ve seen that after storms of years past, where the leaves were bruised and damaged so much they would not cure, which is the drying process after harvest. That’s if the tobacco stalks were still standing and the leaves weren’t covering the ground.  

We are hoping the cornstalks are green, or immature, enough to withstand the winds. Some fields have stalks starting to dry, and they can be snapped off in hurricane-force winds. The soybeans should be OK. The concern with sweet potatoes is flooding because root crops that have been covered by floodwater can’t be harvested. 

While we can’t do much in the field, there is plenty to do around the shop. Equipment needs to be moved; last year the equipment was lined up along field edges and it looked like a farm auction was getting ready to take place. Generators need to be checked in case we lose power. The to-do list is long and continues to grow as the storm moves closer.

That list is even longer for our farmer friends with livestock. Our state is second in the nation for pig production and eyes are always on those farms after a storm. While our preparations may start when the meteorologist predicts it’s heading our way, pig farmers prepare for them all year long. Livestock farmers are checking feed and fuel supplies, testing generators, and making decisions on baling hay.  ,Some animals are being moved to higher ground.

This won’t be the first storm we’ve weathered and once it passes, farmers will come together to help each other recover.   

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