LAURINBURG — Fields upon fields of Scotland County crops, benefiting from more frequent rains, are growing thick and tall under the July sun — but some growth has been stunted by June’s dry spells.
According to Randy Wood, director of the Scotland County Cooperative Extension, about 25 percent of this summer’s crops — a percentage valued at about $2.5 million — may have been “permanently stressed” or otherwise damaged.
The direct hit to farmer’s pockets, Wood said, may inspire them to invest in irrigation systems which this year have been largely responsible for the survival of this year’s corn. But now in the middle of the hottest season, Wood said the county is in better shape than in recent memory.
“For the last three years we’ve had really unusual weather patterns,”he said. “It would be really dry for long periods of time and then wet. But for the last few weeks we’ve experienced a more traditional weather cycle.”
Recent humidity and showers have been helping crops like hay, corn and peanuts, which are always thirsty for rain, thrive. Bermuda grass, cotton and soybeans, on the other hand, love to bask more in the heat.
“Heat and humidity don’t affect our summer crops unless we get horrendous heat,” Wood said.
Bill Carmichael, who mostly grows corn, cotton, wheat, soybeans and peanuts on his 1,000 acres of farmland along Old Lumberton Road, doesn’t have many complaints about the weather — but he wouldn’t mind a few more rain showers.
The crops has soaked enough to remain healthy but his corn has suffered. While some areas of his farm have strong, tall stalks nearly ready to be picked, others are not fully developed.
“(The corn) will be harvested but it won’t be as much as usual,” he said. “It would be nice to get a little more rain.”
Allen McLaurin, who grows and sells cotton, soybeans, wheat and peanuts on his farms in Scotland, Hoke, Marlboro and Robeson counties, said crops have grown at an average pace this year.
“We had a dry spell in April and May that prevented the wheat from being as productive as we were hoping for,” McLaurin said, “then we had a good crop, but it’s getting a little dry. We need rain every week if we can get it — to help keep the crops growing.”
Rachel McAuley can be reached at 910-276-2311, ext. 15. Follow her on Twitter @rachelmcauley1.