Farmers finally in the fields


After weeks of heavy rains, Switzerland County farmers are finally being able to get in their fields and are heavily into the planting season.

Chuck Deputy of the Farm Service Agency said that the rains, although heavy and severe at stretches, turned out to not be as big a problem as producers had feared.

“All this hot weather has helped fields dry out,” Chuck Deputy said. “If you get up around 250 in those flatter areas, I’m not sure how dry those got. I know the river bottoms, nothing’s planted down there in the bottoms between Vevay and the county line. I think I’ve seen one farm planted down there, if at all.”

He said that approximately 85-percent of the county’s corn crop has been planted, with some farmers now filing for crop insurance on fields that didn’t get planted by the deadline.

He said that farmers had to have their corn planted for crop insurance purposes by last Sunday, June 5th; so those who still couldn’t get into their fields by that deadline faced the choice of either going ahead with planting knowing that their crop insurance protection would be reduced; or leave the field unplanted and file for the crop insurance now.

“I would guess that about 10-15 percent of the county’s corn crop will be preventive planted,” Chuck Deputy said. “That means that they intended to plant corn in that field but they will leave it idle, because they had that farm or that field insured, and their crop insurance kicks in.”

As for soybeans, Chuck Deputy says that county farmers are behind as compared to this time a year ago. June 20th is the final planting date on soybeans before farmers need to make the same decisions that they made on corn, so with more than a week, Chuck Deputy is optimistic that most of the county’s bean crop will get planted.

“I’d say, best guess, is that we’re only at 50- or 60-percent of beans being planted right now,” he said. “Normally, by now we’d be at about 80-percent right now. If it stays good this week and we don’t get any rain, I’d say we’ll probably get everything done. If the farmers can get dry weather between now and June 20th, I think they’ll be caught up.”

As for tobacco, Chuck Deputy says that there’s been a lot of cutback in the tobacco program, estimating that the contracts here in the county were reduced by about half over last year.

Once the staple of the Switzerland County economy, tobacco production fell dramatically when the federal support system was eliminated and producers began contracting directly with tobacco companies rather than going to warehouses for auctions.

“Guys either got their contracts cut or they didn’t get their contracts renewed with a company,” Chuck Deputy said. “There’s just a handful of people raising tobacco now. I would guess that there’s maybe 500 acres of tobacco being grown in the county, where we used to have 1,500 to 2,000 acres.”

He estimates that all of that are being raised by 10-15 producers, as the “little guy” has been eliminated.

Chuck Deputy said that the county is in pretty good shape in terms of its hay crop. In terms of the grass hays, he said that the rainy weather really didn’t hurt it. He said that most of the first cutting has been completed.

“I heard that there was some alfalfa that was hurt more by the water this year than by the drought we had last year,” Chuck Deputy said.

Overall, even being behind on the soybean planting, Switzerland County farmers are into their fields and are in full swing with planting; and if the weather continues to hold; it looks like another big year for Switzerland County agriculture.