Matthew mucked up some farms’ harvests over weekend

RICHMOND—Virginia has seen far more damaging fall storms than Hurricane Matthew. But on Oct. 8 and 9 that storm dealt some farms significant damage and caused harvest delays in some parts of the state.

An Oct. 11 National Agricultural Statistics Service crop report for Virginia noted that Hurricane Matthew’s high winds and heavy rains resulted in flooding, fallen trees, road closures and damage to crops and farm structures in some communities.

“Standing water is in some fields,” the report said, “limiting work until weather conditions improve.”

Farm activities in the week before the hurricane included harvesting corn, apples and peanuts. The report indicated 84 percent of the state’s apple crop, 81 percent of flue-cured tobacco, 71 percent of corn for grain and 26 percent of peanuts had been harvested by Oct. 9. Cotton bolls were opening, and about 10 percent of the wheat crop and 25 percent of the barley crop had been planted.

Virginia Beach received “a solid foot of rain,” according to Roy Flanagan, a Virginia Cooperative Extension agriculture and natural resources agent serving that locality. Farm damage included new strawberry plants washed out of their planting holes “and one farm stand had more than 30 bins of pumpkins and mums wash down the road. Field work is at a standstill until drier weather comes,” Flanagan reported.

In Surry County, corn still in the field “has suffered varying amounts of wind damage, and it will be a challenge when combines get rolling. … We will need several days of good sunshine to get things dried out so corn, cotton and peanut harvests can resume,” reported Extension agent Glenn Slade.

Extension agent Livvy Preisser in Southampton County said farmers there “had a rough week. We had some folks dig and pick peanuts, and then the hurricane hit more (severely) than we expected. We are hoping for some dry days so farmers can return to the field. Damage is minimal, but we did experience about 10 to 12 inches of rain with flooding.”

In Lunenburg County, “the ground is saturated,” noted Extension agent Lindy Tucker. “There is still tobacco in the field, but we are making good progress.”

Farms farther west saw less rain and more benefits from the wet weather. Extension agent Thomas Stanley said the recent rain “was beneficial for Rockbridge (County) farms,” and agent Kevin Spurlin in Grayson County said fall pastures there “have benefitted from recent moisture.”

Media: Contact Pam Wiley, VFBF communications, at 804-290-1128.

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