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Abundant rainfall worries NC farmers, water departments

Posted July 2, 2013

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— A deluge of rain in the last several weeks has area farmers struggling to salvage what they can from water-logged fields and consumers waiting to see whether it will have an impact on their grocery bills.

“I've never been through this before,” said Jimmy McKenzie, a third-generation farmer. “I've been through wet years, but I've never been through a wet June like this.”

More than 10 inches of rain has fallen across central North Carolina since the start of June, which is 7 inches more than average.

Farming Heavy rains may affect harvest for NC farmers

McKenzie said he can't get equipment onto his field and is paying more for labor to get the job done. The rain has also drowned the roots of his tobacco, making it thin and yellow.

“Thin tobacco don't have no flavor,” he said. “We need some warm weather. We need some dry weather.”

It's not just tobacco that’s suffering from the abundant rainfall. Officials with the Johnston County Cooperative Extension Service say the ground is too wet to plant soybeans or harvest wheat.

“Without doing that in a timely manner, it really reduces the yield potential of the crop,” said Bryant Spivey, the extension office director.

State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said farmers across North Carolina are hurting.

“Name a region of the state, and this rainfall has had some type of impact on crops there,” he said. “Statewide, more than 30 percent of the wheat crop still hasn’t been harvested, and the rain has slowed the planting of soybeans and sweet potatoes.”

Troxler said his department has received reports from farmers in central and eastern counties who have had cotton and tobacco “drowned” by the recent rain. In western counties, corn and vegetables have had too much water, and the blackberry harvest is slower than normal.

Spivey and Troxler said smaller harvests push up prices, although it’s too soon to tell what will happen.

water demand Water demand down, signaling prices could go up

“It’s too early to know what the potential impacts on crop yield and quality could be, but farmers could definitely use a little break from the rain,” Troxler said.
McKenzie said he’s hoping to save some of his wheat, and he hasn’t given up on his tobacco.

“Tobacco is a crop that's good for coming back,” he said. “You don't never give up on it until it’s over with.”

The City of Raleigh said the rainfall, combined with increasing conservation efforts and a down economy, have meant less revenue trickling in to the Public Utilities Department, resulting in several rate hikes in recent years.

"The council has done what is required to kind of adjust the rates as we go to keep the business model intact," said John Carman, the city's public utilities director.

He said the city sells roughly the same volume of water as it did in 2005 – despite gaining about 97,000 people in its service area.

"We are in a slow decline in per capita usage, with an increase in population," Carman said.

11 Comments

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  • Strawberry Letter 23 Beth Wilson Jul 3, 4:18 p.m.

    Rain, rain. PLEASE stay! Come every day!! NOT!

  • daderay Jul 3, 3:07 p.m.

    I am far from an expert on the subject, but it sounds as if the problem is in the business model if prices for delivery of water goes up when the supply goes up and the demand goes down!

  • jblake1932 Jul 3, 12:42 p.m.

    They worry when it's hot and dry, then worry when it's warm and wet! Geesh!

  • Reformed Liberal Jul 3, 11:41 a.m.

    "The City of Raleigh said the rainfall, combined with increasing conservation efforts and a down economy, have meant less revenue trickling in to the Public Utilities Department, resulting in several rate hikes in recent years."

    Ahhh.... Capitalism at its finest. Nothing communist about it.

  • Rebelyell55 Jul 3, 11:20 a.m.

    That water usage rate deal sound like a page out of the gas companies play book, they use less, so charge more to keep the profits up.

  • whatelseisnew Jul 3, 10:55 a.m.

    "The council has done what is required to kind of adjust the rates as we go to keep the business model intact," said John Carman, the city's public utilities director."

    Sorry but you are operating a scam. Water should be included as basic services paid for by property taxes. People should not have allowed the city to scam them this way. People should demand the elimination of these add-on taxes. That is after-all what they are. Politicians separate this stuff out as a means of trying to hide how much money they are actually taking out of your pockets.

  • YourConscience Jul 3, 10:52 a.m.

    Stop raising the rates and maybe people would use the water more. We take a two minute (120 second) shower in Wendell because our rate is 4 times higher than those in Raleigh. FOUR TIMES HIGHER because I don't live in city limits and they cant charge us city taxes, but we are forced to use city water. They are taxing us through the water!!! Our household used just 4 units of water last month and our bill was $122.00, We get no trash service or police service from the city, but they charge us FOUR TIMES MORE than Raleigh for WATER. And every time Raleigh raises the rates (which they just voted to do), its exponentially a 4 times higher rate hike for us in the Wendell area. What a SCAM!!! We have the highest water rates in the SOUTH!!! And its going to get worse. I'm MOVING, GOODBY WENDELL!

  • eduncan Jul 3, 9:30 a.m.

    The more you raise the prices the less the usage.

  • RKBA Jul 3, 8:23 a.m.

    "The City of Raleigh said the rainfall, combined with increasing conservation efforts and a down economy, have meant less revenue trickling in to the Public Utilities Department, resulting in several rate hikes in recent years."

    This is something to pay attention to. Public utilities, having fixed overhead and little opportunity to adjust their workforce to match demand (as any private entity would) encourages consumption by penalizing conservation with higher costs.

    And does anyone believe the costs would go DOWN if consumption went up? If so, I have some land to sell you...

  • ncsislamesauce Jul 3, 8:21 a.m.

    This is great for sowing my grass seed though. I shouldn't have had to put any fertilizer out though, now I'm mowing a jungle on a weekly basis.

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