Local News

Rough Rains May Rejuvenate the Golden Leaf

Posted July 24, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Many tobacco barns lost power as the remnants of Hurricane Danny made their way across the Carolinas. Thousands of dollars in golden leaf may be ruined. In the fields, high winds left many young plants leaning or flat on the ground. But ironically, it's possible the storm did more good than harm in our area.

Larry Barbour has planted one tobacco field twice already. Now, he's got to stand his plants back up, all 140 acres of them, after high winds from the remnants of Hurricane Danny blew them over.

Barbour admits it's hard work, aggravating work. Nobody loves to do it. But all he can do is try to stand them up. The plants will never be the same as they were before the storm. They'll lean one way or another.

Machines will have a tough time harvesting this crop and may force Barbour to hire expensive help to bring in the leaf by hand.

Along with the wind, Danny also brought rain-- rain that caused flooding in some parts of the state, but rain that will likely save the crop in Barbour's field.

Barbour's son, James, is thankful for the rain. He says you can't make the crop without a rain. The plants are a long ways away from being a full crop, but that rain will make it.

The lack of rain in the past month had farmers worried their crops would dry up in the field. Danny's arrival has been a mixed blessing.

Hurricane Bertha brought a crop-saving rain last year, but all the good was undone when Fran blew through. If history doesn't repeat itself, the Barbours are looking forward to a bountiful harvest. They feel their crop will survive with a lot of tender loving care.

All Tar Heel crops should benefit from the moisture, not just tobacco. But the wind damage done to corn may be irreversible. Farmers say leaning stalks are okay, but if it's flat on the ground, it can't be harvested.