Alabama farmers battle excessive rains, soggy crops

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 5:47 PM CDT
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PIKE ROAD, Ala. (WSFA) - When is the rain going to let up? That’s the question on a lot of Alabamians’ minds lately. After all, it’s rained for 33 of the last 50 days!

Farmers are asking the same question with one man in Pike Road having a unique perspective on the situation: It’s been too much of a good thing.

Walking into Reed Ingram’s field in Pike Road is simply an exercise in not getting stuck.

“You see the roots are rotten,” said Ingram, pointing at his crops. On five acres of land, he estimates 30 percent of his pumpkin crop is gone.

“All of our roots are on top of the ground and the plant is trying to die,” he lamented.

A similar situation is playing out not far away in another of his crops.

“We’ve lost about 50 percent of this corn,” Ingram said.

The farmer has a front row seat to all sides of the situation. As the owner of Sweet Creek Farmer’s Market in Pike Road he sees what the non-stop rain is doing to his produce.

“It’s been real challenging. The produce has been more expensive. There’s been less produce. Our squash is gone,” Ingram said.

The rainfall has been abnormally high for this time of year in Alabama, not good for row crop farmers such as cotton, soybean and peanut producers who need to do necessary field work like eradicating weeds and spraying.

“We don’t even see this kind of rainfall in the winter time,” said Ingram.

The rains have been great, however, for the hay crop. The problem is hay farmers need dry days to cut, bale and store the hay. It’s getting to the point now where all this moisture is reducing the quality.

The USDA reports that only 53 percent of forages for hay production in Alabama have received a second cutting. That number was 73 percent around this time in 2020.

There is one positive aspect of the rain. It’s reduced the need for farmers to use their irrigation systems.

“We haven’t turned it on this year at all,” Ingram admitted.

As a second generation farmer, Ingram learned long ago farming is a gamble and you’re always at the mercy of the weather, but like so many of his counterparts he continues to plow ahead.

“It’s par for the course,” he said.

According to ALFA, the agriculture and forestry industries in Alabama have a $70 billion economic impact on the state with the industries providing nearly 600,000 jobs.

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