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North Carolina farmers race Hurricane Ian, harvest progress surges

Despite less than five days suitable for fieldwork the week ending Oct. 2, North Carolina corn harvest surged 7%.

“There is no greater motivation for getting your crop harvested than a hurricane,” East Bend farmer Kevin Matthews says. “We ran the combines for 21 straight hours the day before Hurricane Ian arrived.”

The storm moved inland overnight on Friday dumping more than 8 inches of rain in some parts of northeastern North Carolina, according to the Iowa Environmental Mesonet. Matthews is thankful his area recorded less than 3 inches of rain and winds stayed under 50 mph.

Map of North Carolina precipitation
Photo credit: Iowa Environmental Mesonet

“Everything was still standing when it was all over. Other than losing power for most of the day, we were lucky to come out unscathed from this storm,” Matthews says.

After the storm, corn condition in the Tar Heel state was unchanged with 21% very poor, 25% poor, 25% fair, 22% good, and 7% excellent, according to Monday’s Crop Progress Report.

Soybeans in North Carolina are maturing rapidly. USDA reported 68% of North Carolina soybeans dropping leaves on Monday. That’s up from 52% the week prior and well ahead of the 57% five-year average.

Soybean condition fell slightly after the storm to 2% very poor, 5% poor, 30% fair, 55% good, and 8% excellent.

Farmers have harvested 14% of the state’s soybeans so far this year. The five-year average is 10%.

Other North Carolina Crops

Cotton progress is also ahead of the five-year average pace. 

USDA reported 89% cotton bolls opening on Monday, a jump from 80% the week prior and the 81% five-year average.

Cotton harvest surged to 10% complete, up from 2% the week prior and ahead of the 5% five-year average.

USDA rated cotton condition 1% very poor, 8% poor, 33% fair, 54% good, 4% excellent.

North Carolina peanut harvest jumped dramatically to 20% complete, up from 6% the week prior. The five-year average is 15%.

Peanut condition was rated 0% very poor, 4% poor, 30% fair, 59% good, and 7% excellent in Monday’s report.

Map of North Carolina drought conditions
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

North Carolina Drought Condition

Prior to the storm, D1 moderate drought covered 15% of the state. This region was the hardest hit by Ian later in the week.

Another 46% of North Carolina was abnormally dry, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released Sept. 29.

The next drought update is scheduled to be released Oct. 6 and will reflect impacts from Hurricane Ian.

USDA rated topsoil moisture condition in the state 2% very short, 18% short, 74% adequate, and 6% surplus on Monday. Subsoil condition was rated 4% very short, 22% short, 72% adequate, and 2% surplus.

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