Northeast Mississippi suffers through record rain

TUPELO – Northeast Mississippi has just endured one of its wettest stretches ever.
From Sept. 1 to midnight Thursday, Tupelo received 17.55 inches of rain, according to Luigi Romolo, the regional climatologist at the Southern Region Climate Center in Baton Rouge.
The rainfall is 12.67 inches above normal for the period, making it the wettest Sept. 1- Oct. 15 in Tupelo since record-keeping started in 1963 at the Tupelo Regional Airport.
Starkville and Oxford also reported the most rain for the period in more than 100 years.
The excess rain is causing flash floods, soaking yards and creating a real problem for farmers.
Douglas Kitchens, a farmer in Kirkville, already has lost half of his cotton crop due to the rain. If it freezes tonight, he’ll lose even more.
Kitchens and other Northeast Mississippi farmers haven’t been able to do more than watch the past few weeks as rain continues to degrade the quality of their plants. Many of the crops are ready to harvest, but the wet conditions have prevented farmers from going into the fields.
Statewide, the USDA said for the week ending Oct. 11, 76 percent of farmers reported surplus moisture in their fields.
According to The Clarion-Ledger, the deluge is costing the state’s farmers an estimated $377 million in crop damage.
Gov. Haley Barbour earlier this month asked the USDA to have its Mississippi office do loss assessments across the state, a preliminary step in earning a federal disaster declaration.
If a disaster is declared, farmers would be eligible for low-interest loans or Supplemental Revenue Assurance, a program that pays farmers based on losses.
Cotton and sweet potatoes have been hit especially hard. John Michael Riley, an MSU extension specialist, said some cotton producers in the state are looking at a 100 percent loss.
Kitchens is hoping he’s not one of them. He said already the rain has cut his cotton yield in half, but he still has some green bolls that can be saved if the weather cooperates.
“If it was to freeze this weekend, the freeze will ruin the bolls we got left,” Kitchens said Friday afternoon.
The forecast called for a low Saturday night of 35 degrees in Tupelo and 35 degrees tonight, according to the National Weather Service.
In Nettleton, Darel Nicholson said his soybeans are taking a beating. He said his 1,700 acres of beans range from 30 percent to 60 percent damaged.
“It’s not looking good right now,” Nicholson said. “We had a real good crop and all and it’s all gone now.”
Nicholson also grows peanuts, but said he isn’t sure about the quality because the rain has prevented him from digging any up.
Both Nicholson and Kitchens said their corn crop was damaged by the rain, but it will be salvageable. Nicholson expects to lose 8 percent to 10 percent of his pay at the grain elevator because of the high moisture content in the corn.
Kitchens said he’s hoping high winds won’t knock down his corn stocks, preventing the combine from harvesting them.

Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.

Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal