Farmers work to save crops after Hurricane Matthew

Posted October 12, 2016

— The aftermath of Hurricane Matthew is threatening livelihoods as local farmers are working overtime to salvage what they can of their crops.

Hames Reid said flooded fields are difficult to harvest.

“By the end of the week, if we can’t get out there and start picking, you’re going to see an empty stand,” Reid said Wednesday at the State Farmers Market.

Reid has worked for Beth Moore’s farm in Johnston County for decades. Sweet potatoes are his chief concern because with all the water in the field, they’ll either rot or grow too large, which are both bad for business, he said.

“They could rot. They could grow from being number one to number two potatoes to big jumbo potatoes and that cuts back on your profit,” Reid said.

Farmers are doing what they can to make sure their products get to the Farmers Market and time is of the essence.

“We have a crew in the field right now and they’re going to dig probably a hundred bins of potatoes a day,” Reid said.

State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said “it’s important to get out into the field as soon as possible. We want to help our farmers recover as quickly as possible.”

For Bynum’s Pumpkin Farm, getting into the field means hands and feet but no tractors or trucks.

“Now that Matthew has come, we’re having to get everything out of the fields with wheel barrels and we’re miring all the way to our knees trying to get stuff out,” said Tara Bynum.

Bynum said pumpkins are her family’s livelihood. She’s optimistic but knows success this season is not guaranteed.

“They can’t lay in that mud very long, so we’re just doing the best we can to get them out. If we don’t get them out, then they’ll decay in the field,” she said.

Adding to the concern about crops is the fact that many people who work harvesting in the fields are dealing with their own flooding issues at home.

Farmers who have an agriculture emergency following Hurricane Matthew are asked to call the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 1-866-645-9403.


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