Local News

From Too Dry To Too Wet, Farmers' Crops Have Rough Time

Posted April 23, 2003

— What a difference a year makes.

Last year, the biggest problem for growing tobacco and other crops was a record drought. This year, there's the opposite problem: It's too wet.

J.D. Woolard's tobacco planter is finally moving. The wet spring kept him out of the fields until Tuesday.

"Well, it's kind of frustrating, you know," Woolard said. "You want to get out, and you can't."

Like most farmers, Woolard could only sit and wait for the rains to stop and the fields to dry out enough to get another year started.

Woolard has grown tobacco for more than 40 years. This year, he'll plant a bit over 200 acres. His crop is about a week behind, but after last year's drought, he's not too upset.

"I believe I'd rather have it wet than dry," he said. " I'd rather wait than have to be waiting for the rain."

Quincy Adams, a Cooperative Extension Agent in Wake County, agreed that it's better for the ground to be too wet than too dry right now.

"You're starting out this year with plenty of soil moisture," Adams said. "The plant doesn't have to sit there and try to find top-soil moisture. It's right there."

As long as the weather stays clear, Woolard should be able to get his tobacco planted in 10 to 12 days. He doesn't think the slow start will impact his bottom line.

"It might get you a little behind," he said. "But most of the time, it'll catch up. It might not be quite as good as it might have been, but it'll be a fair crop most of the time."

Although many people think of Wake County as an urban area, farmers grow more than $25 million dollars worth of tobacco in the county.

Most farmers will get tobacco planted first -- it's the most profitable crop. But the wet spring also held up corn, soybeans and cotton.

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