Heavy rain delayed some harvestsPublished 10:41pm Friday, August 30, 2013
Recent rain has been more of a blessing than a curse for the Huxford farm owned and operated by Larry Ward and his son Brad.
In fact, if Ward Farms had seen rain earlier in the season, like April or May, they could have saved money on irrigation, Brad Ward said.
“We ended up having to water corn,” he said. “It’s expensive to run and labor-intensive. Nothing’s as good as mother nature.”
At this stage, the only thing the rain affected with corn was the harvest date, he said. Thanks to the drier conditions, Ward Farms was able to begin its corn harvesting this week.
“Last week we were bogging,” Brad Ward said.
The Wards grow 600 acres of field corn, used mostly for feed. They also grow 1,700 acres each of cotton and peanuts, which can also be negatively affected by overly wet conditions.
“A lot of our cotton looks really good, but it has a long way to go,” Brad Ward said. “We won’t know anything until we pull the peanuts up.”
Brad Ward said that while rainfall has been “a little above average,” the farm has been fortunate and missed much of the rain that affected farms farther south.
Mary Johnson, a spokeswoman with the Alabama Farmers Federation, said the rain has been a blessing for most farmers this year.
“Farmers would rather have this than the dry we had last year,” Johnson said.
In fact, she said the U.S. Department of Agriculture has predicted this will be a record crop year for corn in Alabama. Johnson admitted, however, that rain does negatively impact corn harvesting. Until this week’s drier conditions, that could have been an issue.
“The harvest is taking a little longer than most would like,” she said. “Corn has to dry down and the corn has to be dry before it’s stored.”
Johnson said farmers are expecting about the same yield on peanuts as last year, with 13 percent expected to be the poor range.
“Cotton should be all right,” she said.
She added that too much rain is still better than too little rain and if farms continue to dry out it’ll be good for farmers statewide.
“They will be able to get into the field and not worry about getting their tractors stuck,” she said.