LUMBERTON — The almost daily rain that fell on Robeson County in recent weeks was at first a boon to thirsty crops, but now they have had their fill, and farmers are wanting it to stop.
At least for a few days as June, one of the driest months of the year, arrives.
The constant moisture is impeding agricultural operations, said Mac Malloy, a field crop agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. Farmers can’t apply the herbicides that control weeds and the fertilizers that nourish crops in an efficient and timely manner.
“By the time the ground dries more rain comes and prevents farm work,” Malloy said.
As of late Thursday afternoon, 2.51 inches of rain had fallen in Lumberton during May, said Stephen Keebler, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Wilmington. The bulk of that rain has been in the last two months. Lumberton has had 1.34 inches of sporadic rainfall since Monday and should expect a constant wet pattern over the weekend.
Tobacco and corn crops that were showing signs of drying out from lack of moisture have benefited from the rain, Malloy said. Some farmers had increased their use of supplemental irrigation to get the needed water to their crops.
Other farmers adjusted to the increased rain by planting more soybeans, he said. Soybeans can be planted in moist soil and thrive.
Grain crops benefited from the rain, and harvesting should occur within the next two weeks, Malloy said.
Insurance coverage also is being affected by the rain, he said. Depending on the crop, farmers had a planting window of May 25 to June 8 in which to plant in order to get full coverage for the acreage they had intended to plant. The near constant rain delayed some planting operations.
Tobacco and corn will need more rainfall in the first part of June in order to thrive, Malloy said.
The Climate Prediction Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, is predicting up to 2 inches in the first two weeks of June.
Michelle Andujar can be reached at [email protected]