RALEIGH, N.C. — Heavy rain that drenched eastern North Carolina counties could mean lower yields for sweet potatoes, cotton, peanuts, tobacco and soybeans, state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said Monday.
Troxler toured much of the region by air and ground last Friday and saw many crops under water. He said that would affect yields because those crops were about to be harvested.
Going into last week, only 11 percent of the cotton crop had been harvested, and 31 percent of the sweet potato crop had been dug. Peanut and soybean harvest was just beginning.
"Unfortunately, there is no 'State of Agriculture Emergency.' If I could declare it, I would declare it today," Troxler said.
In Washington, Beaufort and Hyde counties, fields were turned into ponds by heavy rains, he said.
Michael Barbour, who has grown sweet potatoes for nearly 30 years on his Johnston County farm, said he saw more than 12 inches of rain hit his crop hard.
"Folks don't realize who much you've got invested in a crop of sweet potatoes," he said Monday.
The rain caused at least 10 percent of his crop to turn sour.
Troxler said it’s too early to estimate the cost of crop damage. He encouraged farmers to document their damage and stay in touch with their county Cooperative Extension agent and U.S. Farm Service Agency office.