Local News

Into Every Farmer's Life A Little Rain Must Fall

Posted June 2, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT

— It has been a rough year for Tar Heel tobacco farmers and dry weather is making things worse. Farmers like Pender Sharp are keeping one eye on the crops, and the other on the sky.

"There's no water in the ground going into the season," Sharp observes, "and it's already hot and dry. It's a little frightening to think what could be happening a month from now."

Sharp knows the risks. "You could experience crops with low yields or crops with no yields," Sharp says.

He also knows the thrill. "We love the challenge and we love to see what we can accomplish in adverse situations," he says.

So far this year, it has been a tough season of extremes. "It was warm in January, it was extremely cold in April," Sharp says. The latest dry, hot weather conditions are not helping.

Sharp says that without some much-needed rain, he may not see a return on his 300 acre corn field. He is not ready to throw in the towel just yet though. "We still have potential," he says. "If we get rainfall, this corn will make a normal crop."

Corn crops, and others like them, have become more critical to farmers like Sharp who cannot rely as heavily on tobacco as they once could.

"It has become extremely important for other crops to pay their way because of our cuts in tobacco quota. We're just growing less tobacco today," Sharp says.

Tobacco, cucumbers and grain crops like corn cannot withstand another dry, hot month like May. Sharp says two inches of rain would be a good start.