Hurricane further dampened some harvest efforts, events

HurricaneTalk about a sad seasonal soaking. In the wake of Hurricane Michael, the Northern Neck Farm Museum posted Oct. 14 on Facebook that the wind and rain “have blown down our corn maze and washed away our pumpkin patch.” The damage forced cancellation of the museum’s Oct. 27 and 28 Fall Festival, but failed to dampen officials’ spirits. They have rescheduled the museum’s Plowing Day, which features vintage farm equipment, for Oct. 27.

Farms in southern and eastern parts of Virginia saw storm-related complications for harvest and small grain planting. A National Agricultural Statistics Service crop progress report released Oct. 15 noted some particularly soggy areas after the hurricane’s sweep across the state on Oct. 11. The report includes county-specific assessments from Virginia Cooperative Extension staff.

As of Oct. 14, NASS reported 87 percent of Virginia’s corn crop for grain, 85 percent of its apple crop, 44 percent of peanuts and 12 percent of cotton had been harvested. Forty-four percent of barley and 22 percent of winter wheat had been planted.

Scott Reiter, an Extension agriculture and natural resources agent, said farmers in Charles City, Prince George, Surrey and Sussex counties “raced Hurricane Michael to get many crops in before the storm blew through. Corn, cotton and peanuts were harvested right up to the rain starting on Thursday. … The main threat now is additional rainfall preventing harvest of peanuts, cotton and soybeans.”

In Brunswick County, more than 30 roads were closed, and fallen trees damaged farm fences, allowing some livestock to get loose, according to Cynthia Gregg, an Extension agriculture agent. “Some soybeans have been completely flooded out, and others are leaning badly,” Gregg noted. “Soybeans that took a hit from Hurricane Florence are in worse shape now. Corn still in the fields took a beating as well. Hay fields and pastures were flooded, and many still have pools of standing water in them.”

Todd Scott, Extension ag agent in Campbell County, reported that “early planted (soy)beans … are a total loss. The wet weather and high humidity has caused sprouting/fungus/or rotting in the pods. It has been almost impossible to get in the fields even on weeks of nice weather due to the wet, muddy ground.” Silage, which is fed to animals, “was extremely hard to harvest on time due to muddy fields.”

Farther west, “farm roads, fences and a few structures sustained damage” in Grayson County, reported Extension agent Kevin Spurlin. “Mudslides also occurred in some areas. Overall, the effects were more damaging than those of Hurricane Florence a few weeks ago.”

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