Rains producing bumper crops in Sandhills

Posted July 11, 2016

— Hot weather and lots of afternoon storms seem to be a good combination for farms in central North Carolina so far this summer.

Corn is standing tall in fields, and tobacco plants are thick with green leaves.

Tyler Adams, an agriculture agent with the North Carolina State Cooperative Extension Service, said the sandy soil in the Sandhills region is perfect for handling the amount of rain the region has seen in recent weeks.

"We've had some good half-inch to inch rain, and it'll dry out in a day or two, and then we'll get another shower, and it's just working out perfect for us," Adams said as he inspected a tobacco field in Cumberland County.

While parts of western North Carolina are experiencing abnormally dry conditions or even moderate to severe drought, the eastern half of the state has seen a surplus of rain this year, according to WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze. Fayetteville is about 2 inches above normal for rain so far this year, while Lumberton is 4.5 inches above normal and Raleigh is 7.6 inches above normal.

"It's definitely a timing thing," Adams said. The past couple of weeks here, we've about 6 or 8 inches, and tobacco and corn is really making its yield right now. So, we've needed the rain, and we've got it and after all that, our crops are looking great."

That's great news for both farmers with hundreds of acres and for farmers like RB and Thelma Fisher, who take a lot of pride in the crops they grow on their small plot and sell in their front yard.

"It's all been real good," Thelma Fisher said, noting the couple grows watermelon, okra, squash, cucumbers, peas and butter beans. "It might rain here, and down the road it doesn't rain. But for us this year, it's been real good."

Adams warned there is still a lot of growing season left this summer, and too much rain at this point could still lead to disaster.

"The hardest part is some of our crops drown, and then we also have a delay in getting our harvest out, in getting our crops out of the field," he said. "That can put us behind all winter long or all season long."


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