Recent rains are mixed blessing for grain and produce farmers

RICHMOND—Ample rains in the past week have delayed some wheat harvests and soybean planting but generally benefited row crops and hay.

The July 6 crop progress and condition report prepared by the Virginia field office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service noted that weather conditions last week limited field work; “however, most crops were looking good. High temperatures were in the 90s, and lows were in the 50s. Precipitation was up from the previous week with heavy rains.”

The report cited adequate topsoil and subsoil moisture in at least two-thirds of the state and described corn, cotton, wheat, tobacco, hay, apple, wine grape, peanut and peach crops as being in good to excellent condition.

In Rockbridge County, “a week of moderate temperatures and showers with significant rain (last) Tuesday and Sunday nights helped maintain soil moisture to the benefit of row crops, pasture and hay,” reported Thomas Stanley, a Virginia Cooperative Extension agriculture and natural resources agent.

To the east, in Caroline County, Extension agent Mike Broaddus reported that “abundant” rainfalls “have kept the crops looking very good and doing their best. Some early-season (and) early-planted corn has already had enough rainfall to guarantee a good yield, and it is suspected that this will be a bumper year for all corn producers.”

Farther southeast, in Gloucester County, Extension agent David Moore said rain has created a detrimental effect on the winter wheat harvest and (late) soybean planting. “Haymaking is also on hold. … Cantaloupes, tomatoes, squash, peppers and sweet corn are being picked, and quality is pretty good so far.”

On Virginia’s Eastern Shore, in Northampton County, Extension agent Ursula Deitch noted that the region’s potato harvest has begun and that the wheat harvest is being wrapped up, with some rain-related delays.

Rain kept some farmers out of their fields in Southside as well last week. Lindy Tucker, an Extension agent in Lunenburg County, reported that crops generally are growing well, “but we will have to keep our eyes peeled for disease issues, as it has remained very humid. The corn looks great, the tobacco and beans look good, sorghum is coming along nicely. Pastures are green, as most have been mowed at this point.”

Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, was in agreement that crop conditions are generally good to excellent. “And while some summer crop harvests may be slowed a bit and there may be some disease concerns here or there,” he said, “the weather so far this year is by far better than dealing with extended dry periods and droughts, which we have experienced in the past several years.”

Media: Contact Banks at 804-290-1114. 

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