As county farmers begin harvest, dry weather could mean low yields


Switzerland County farmers are preparing to begin harvest, and agriculture officials fear that the dry weather through the heart of the growing season may translate into bad news for farmers.

“Right now we’re in the heart of tobacco harvest,” Chuck Deputy of the Farm Service Agency said. “Probably 40-percent of the crop is harvested. Overall the crop looks pretty good. Early tobacco real good, but late tobacco needs some rain so it will go ahead and spread out and finish, but overall it looks like it’s going to be a pretty good crop.”

The tobacco harvest reminds the county of the important role that tobacco played not only in the agricultural community here; but the community in general. It is estimated that Switzerland County now grows less than half the amount of tobacco than it did before the federal program was abolished.

Chuck Deputy said that the early crops of corn and beans look pretty good, as well, saying that crops that were planted early are “above average”; while the crops that were planted at the normal time or later are being hurt by lack of rainfall.

“I’d say overall the county is a little below average, and that’s due to the lack of rain,” Chuck Deputy said. “Beans especially need some rain. The pods aren’t filling out like they should because it’s so dry.”

Chuck Deputy said that it seems as though farmers got plenty of precipitation early; but when they needed it, the weather dried up. “Overall it’s been pretty dry other than a few spots in the county,” he said.

Although there has been a lack of rain throughout the prime growing season, Chuck Deputy said that some rain now could still help the soybeans that were planted later; but that’s about it.

“The ones that were planted at the normal time, it’s probably not going to do them a lot of good to get rain now,” he said.

Chuck Deputy said that he figures that the county will be just a little below average with its soybean crop; while corn figures to be average.

“Early, I would have said we were going to have a bumper crop of corn,” Chuck Deputy said. “But I’d say that right now we’re averaging just a little above average on the corn. As for harvest, I haven’t heard any harvest started yet, but some guys may be starting next week, so it’s not that far away. Some guys talked about starting the first of September that they could start running some corn. That’s a pretty early harvest time, around here anyway.”

Chuck Deputy said that the hay crop has also been hurt by a lack of moisture, particularly the later cuttings.

“I know things were kind of burned up in the largest part of the county,” Chuck Deputy said. “You get out around Highway 250 north and east, it seems up in there that they’ve just missed the rains, especially from Fairview on east. It’s really dry up in that area.”

Chuck Deputy said that overall he expects the hay crop to be a little above average, but that will be pulled down by the lack of later cuttings. He said that pasture conditions were really good early, but now he would classify them in the ‘bad’ category.

Overall, prices are remaining steady, and he noted that officials are calling for a bumper corn crop nationwide, which should help prices.

“Up north, we’ve seen the creation of a lot of big dairies, so I think corn production is going up because of the need to supply those big dairies,” Chuck Deputy said.

So overall, the early crops are going to be above average because they got the rain when they needed it; but the normally planted crops and the late planted crops are hurting. Ironically, much of the late planting was a result of fields being too wet early for farmers to get into.