Last week's rain was crucial for local farmers

Published 4:00 am Monday, June 25, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
"If you could phrase it as a million dollar rain, you could call it that easily."
That is what Bennie H. Watson said about the downpour of rain Escambia County experienced last week.
Watson grows cotton, peanuts and wheat throughout the Robinsonville area and said that his crops, but especially corn crops, desperately needed the rain.
"The rain was a great benefit," Watson said. "Unfortunately the beneficial rain was only about three counties up so the crops up north are still suffering."
Watson said he keeps a calendar that tracks rainfall, and his crops went 42 days without a good rain. It could have been disastrous if the crops had gone many more days without any precipitation.
"You go 60 days without rain and you are in trouble with any crop," Watson said. "We were almost on the verge of having a declaration of disaster in Escambia County if we had gone without rain for two to three more weeks."
Watson said cotton and peanuts have a better chance of bouncing back after an extended dry period than some of the other crops. He also said that corn is genetically able to survive throughout dry spells, but that some of the corn in the Atmore area, before the rainfall, looked horrible. It has since bounced back with the rain from last week.
"The genetics in corn today is to where it can extend its pollination period," he said. "We have got some corn in our area that is as good as anything. I think we'll make a tremendous amount of corn this time."
Without knowing what the weather may do, Watson said it is important to have a small amount of irrigated crops.
"We just don't get the showers like we used to," he said. "We farm about 1,800 acres and a third of that is irrigated. It helps to have some you know you'll make a crop on. Other than that, we wear our knees out praying. We are at the mercy of what the climate can do."
Even though farmers can go through some rough spells, Watson said it is a profession that he enjoys.
"This is something I've always enjoyed doing and I've hit many droughts," he said. "There is always the saying of 'putting back for a rainy day' and that's what we have to do."

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