Tractors, soggy fields don’t mix

TUPELO – The rain is irritating some Northeast Mississippi farmers, but it isn’t hurting them – yet.
In the past two weeks, most parts of the region have had at least 4 inches of rain. Tupelo has had 8.04 inches, which is 6.43 inches above the normal rainfall for the period, according to the Southern Regional Climate Center.
The ongoing rain has delayed corn and soybean harvests, but as of Monday, farmers say their crops might have a chance if the weather will dry up.
Darel Nicholson, who farms about 2,350 acres of soybeans, corn and peanuts in Nettleton, said that despite the rain, it looks like he has a “decent crop.”
“Overall, I feel pretty good about everything,” Nicholson said. “I kind of wish this rain would get up off us … If we have another whole week of stuff like this, it’s going to really hurt all of us. If we can’t harvest some beans next week, I think (the quality) will go down.”
The weather doesn’t seem to be in Nicholson’s favor. Luigi Romolo, a regional climatologist for the Southern Regional Climate Center, said there is at least a 40 percent chance of rain during the day every day for the rest of this week in Northeast Mississippi.
The constant rain brings with it greater chances of flash flooding, he said, because the ground is saturated already and new rainfall can’t be absorbed.
Once the rain does stop, Romolo said, it will take another few days to a week for the ground to dry enough for heavy equipment to enter the fields.
Romona Edge, Itawamba County director for the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said farmers and cattlemen report that their fields are soaked and preventing them from working.
“It is very, very wet,” Edge said. “When you can go down in the pasture and make tracks, you know it’s wet.”
Herman Hussey Jr. in Mooreville said he’s looking at a good crop of cotton, corn and beans, but he’s ready for the rain to end so he can get on with his field work.
“It kind of gets on your nerves after a while,” said Hussey, who farms about 7,100 acres. “I think we got a good crop. We just have to get it gathered, harvested.”
He said his 600 acres of cotton look “really good” right now and he hopes the wet, humid weather doesn’t ruin the quality. It’s the same story for his soybeans and corn.
“You just never know,” he said. “That’s what makes it interesting … I’m always optimistic about it. If I wasn’t, I couldn’t make a living as a farmer.”
Romolo, with the Southern Regional Climate Center, said even though a lot of rain has fallen in the past two weeks, the area was below the average rainfall year-to-date for most of the summer.
It wasn’t enough to qualify for a drought, he said, but it was dry.
The rain dried up in mid-August and didn’t start back until two weeks ago, he said. Even with the extra rain this month, Romolo said Tupelo only is up 3.86 inches above the normal amounts for the year, with a total as of Sunday of 44.09 inches.
Keith Morton said he and his wife, Beth, have been blessed with good weather at their farm in Falkner all season. He called the 9 inches of rain he’s recorded as of Sunday “a trial.”
He said his 1,000 acres of soybeans have been healthy all season and the “plants are loaded with pods.”
While he’s heard of other farmers seeing beans sprouting in the pods because of the rain, he hasn’t seen that on his farm.
“Thankfully, things are not looking bad,” Morton said.
He said he hasn’t had any flooding at the farm, but he’s concerned about the crop quality after the lack of sun and the high amounts of humidity and moisture.
“You really don’t want to see something like this at harvest time,” he said.
Back down at the southern end of Lee County, Nicholson says the same thing about his fields.
“I’m wishing it would quit raining, but I’m just riding it out because there ain’t nothing I can do about it,” Nicholson said. “I’m just wishing it would slack up and let us get in the field.”

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

Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal