The cool, and at times downright cold, weather that kicked off the month of April put Sampson County farmers, who were eager to get started on their spring planting, a little behind schedule.
“Late. I think that pretty much sums it up. Most everything is late,” said Cooperative Extension agent Allan Thornton. “Farmers just did not put it out due to the weather.”
“Sweet potatoes are really late,” Thornton pointed out as fellow agent Wayne Batten added that “corn is definitely late because it has been so wet and cold.”
Although the delay due to the adverse weather likely aggravated farmers, “planting late probably has not caused any problems for farmers, within reason anyway,” said Thornton.
Now that warmer weather seems to be here to stay, local farmers are cranking up their tractors and taking to the fields with gusto.
Crops out in Sampson County fields right now include cabbage, collards, kale, mustard greens, and potatoes. “Maybe a few cucumber and pepper but that has probably just been within the last few days,” noted Thornton.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t have expected to see it before this week,” Batten added.
Farmers are also working hard to get longtime and popular Sampson County cash crop, tobacco, in the fields.
“Tobacco is not running a whole lot late, but it is probably later than most farmers would like it to be,” said Batten. “I would say that probably 25 percent of the crop is in the field now, and by next week, it will probably be up to 50 percent.”
“I would say the thing that has really gotten the farmers, the ones with tobacco in the greenhouses, is that they have burned a tremendous amount of propane, probably one and half times more than usual,” explained Batten. “That is a huge expense.”
“That is true for farmers with all kinds of greenhouses, not just the tobacco ones,” said Thornton, adding that he also knew some farmers were having trouble with greenhouse transplant diseases.
While the earlier blasts of cold weather kept many crops out the fields, the wheat that was already there doesn’t seem to have been affected.
“I think the wheat is doing good. I don’t think we had any frost late enough to bother it,” shared Batten. “It would not have been far enough along either, but we won’t really know the truth about it until the end of the month.”
The North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council reported impending drought or abnormally dry conditions for 39 counties in the southeastern portion of the state, including Sampson County, in its update released on April 18
However, Batten thinks “we’re good right now with our rainfall.”
“Although this weekend may bring a little too much,” remarked Thornton.
“If we had a crystal ball that would tell us what the weather was going to be like and the amount of rain we were going to receive, then things would be wonderful,” said Batten, “but we haven’t got there yet.”
For more information about the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Agency, local crops, and other farm-related news, please visit http://sampson.ces.ncsu.edu.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at email@example.com.