State ag officials: Record rainfall depletes soil nutrients
Posted August 18, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.
"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."