Local News

Troxler: Saturated fields, continued rain resulting in crop damage

Posted October 3, 2015 12:22 p.m. EDT
Updated October 3, 2015 1:01 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said Saturday that crops across the state continued to be damaged thanks to continued rain and saturated ground.

"It's not the amount, at this point, but it's the duration of the event," Troxler said during a news conference with other state leaders. "We have waterlogged fields, and we're beginning to get reports of fresh fruits being damaged, particularly apples, potatoes and pumpkins."

Troxler said Friday that the state's peanut crop alone has suffered about $9 million in damage since rain began falling 10 days ago. North Carolina is among the nation's top 10 peanut producers.

Troxler said some of the apples in Henderson County are starting to split open because they're waterlogged, and that the longer harvests are delayed, the more damage that will occur.

Another issue, Troxler said, is that many farmers can't access their fields to assess crops or any potential damage.

"Sweet potatoes, peanuts and cotton are all being effected by the inability of farmers to get in and harvest those crops," he said. "Another concern in eastern North Carolina is that a lot of the rain coming in off the ocean has a high salt content. That can be very damaging to crops."

More rain is forecast to fall across the western part of the state on Saturday, and the southern and eastern parts of North Carolina could see more rain on Sunday as the weather system lifts to the north.

State officials said they don't anticipate having to release water from reservoirs, but if they do, that could result in even more damage to the agriculture industry.

"I had one farmer call me this morning and tell me he has $1 million of crops in the Yadkin River bottom," Troxler said. "A lot of crops are in river bottoms."

Once the state begins to dry out next week, it could be several more days before the state can fully assess the damage from the continued rainfall.

"We're looking at machines sitting for several days after the rain leaves," Troxler said. "It will be several days before they can begin to harvest, so we'll know the full damage once we get back into the fields."

Troxler said farmers needing help clearing their fields or corralling livestock can call 866-645-9403. Gov. Pat McCrory said detailed assessment of the damage caused by the severe weather will begin in earnest on Monday.