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State ag officials: Record rainfall depletes soil nutrients

Posted August 18, 2013

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— Record-high rainfall across much of North Carolina this spring and summer – up to 30 inches in some places – has depleted soil nutrients and damaged crops, according to the state agriculture department.

Officials are urging growers to be vigilant about soil testing this fall.

"Our sandy, light-colored soils have limited ability to hold nutrients to begin with," said Dr. David Hardy, chief of soil testing at the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, in a news release. "Some of our nutrients are what we call 'mobile in soils,' simply meaning they move with excessive water through the soil."

Potassium, nitrogen and sulfur, in particular, are especially susceptible to depletion with excessive rainfall, Hardy said.

Farmers say many crops, including snap beans, squash, tomatoes and peas, were flooded this season.

"Drought is bad, but you can put water into something," said Jeff Allen of Beth Moore's Produce in Johnston County. "You can't take water away."

Allen said any crop that grows on a vine will become water-logged with too much rain.

Farmer's Market vegetables Record rainfall takes toll on NC agriculture

"It's like a balloon filling it up," he said. "They'll start splitting and bursting and everything, so it's ruined a lot of tomatoes."

Besides having fewer crops to harvest, the plants that do survive have a shorter shelf life, Allen said.

"It might take two to three days off of it," he said. "Like squash would hold up four to five days (normally), but in three days you're throwing it in the trash."

Still, Allen said he's optimistic about future crops.

"We've got sweet potatoes in the ground now, so we're hoping they're not going to rot," he said. "We can't find that out until the end of this month or first of September."

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  • cbuckyoung Aug 19, 2013

    There is not enough rain or to much rain. I have never read a report that says, "Boy, we are having just the right amount of rain." How about the water table in Eastern North Carolina. For several years in the early 2000s, the lack of rain was lowering the water table. Hasn't all the rain the last three years been a blessing bringing up the water table levels in Eastern North Carolina?

  • Save It Aug 19, 2013

    About those rate increases due to the drought and rationing... oh well, never mind.

  • WralCensorsAreBias Aug 19, 2013

    Well there's a new one. They moan when it doesn't rain and now they moan when it rains.

    Their Nutella is being depleted.

    Guess we won't be able to join up with 'food insurance' after all.

  • jbyrd Aug 19, 2013

    "Ever since I moved here in 2005, I have been throwing food in the trash after a couple of days. Produce here in this state is terrible. Poor quality, lousy taste, poor nutritional value, very short shelf life. But as usual, nobody cares !

    BANMD"

    The road that brought you here travels both ways. If it's that bad here, PLEASE take it and don't come back.

  • justabumer Aug 19, 2013

    I'll be happy to help with the poor produce problem. What do you think I should do?

  • SurvivorOne Aug 19, 2013

    Ever since I moved here in 2005, I have been throwing food in the trash after a couple of days. Produce here in this state is terrible. Poor quality, lousy taste, poor nutritional value, very short shelf life. But as usual, nobody cares !

  • senex Aug 19, 2013

    With Crop insurance and government subsidies I'm sure Agro Business will do just fine.

    What's probably MORE of a problem is all the rain washing poisons into the rivers. Car oil, gasoline, radiator fluid, pesticides (especially home owner applicated ones like mosquito control)

    At least the reservoirs will be full up. Only trouble would be a hurricane knocking trees over already softened by such rainfall, a la Fran.

  • nufsaid Aug 19, 2013

    Seems like yesterday when drought was going be the end of the world as we know it.

  • JennyB Aug 19, 2013

    Ya...my garden is dead from all the rain. Tomatoes are split before they're even red.