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Dennis' Rain Leaves Some Cucumber Farmers in a Real 'Pickle'

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TARBORO — Whether it is the wind or the floods, farmers are still cleaning up damage fromDennis. For many crops, the damage ended as soon as the winds died, but it is the water that is forcing some farmers to scramble.

The race is on at one Edgecombe County cucumber farm. Workers are battling soggy soil and time in order to save this season's crop.

"The fields that we're picking right this minute are just so saturated with water. We're trying to get out all the cucumbers we can before they drown," said Wayne Boseman, farm manager.

Floodwaters from Dennis are to blame. Too much water can kill a plant or make the fruit grow too large.

Boseman's 600-acre farm may lose up to half its cucumbers even with the extra effort.

Many workers opt to leave their shoes behind, not to keep them clean, but to keep them from disappearing in the dirt.

"The mud is too sticky. When they put their feet in the mud, they can't get the shoes out of there. It's bad in there," explained Vicente Barajas, crew leader.

Some fields that are closer to the river will be a total loss.

"We've pumped water all year, and at one point, our creek ran dry. We had to stop pumping. We were out of water, but I don't think that's going to be a problem now," said Boseman.

The next two days will show how much damage the plants sustained in the storm. After one of the driest summers in recent history, no one here expected a downpour from Dennis to throw a wrench in the season.

In most cases, cucumber farmers cannot get crop insurance, but some pilot programs are being tested in other counties.