Rain helps some local crop farmers

Published 11:31 pm Thursday, July 9, 2009

When Grover Poole planted a garden at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama in the spring, he did so with all of the confidence in the world in Mother Nature and a water hose.

“I knew that I could get water to the garden so the weather wasn’t a concern there,” Poole said. “If you can get water to a garden, it will usually make good.”

Poole planted tomatoes, squash, cantaloupes and a few watermelons so that visitors to the museum could see how gardens grow.

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“And, everything is looking good,” he said. “The cotton and peanuts are coming along. The peanuts are red skinned — kind of like Spanish peanuts – smaller than runners and some of them will have four to the hull. I like them. We’ve got a bunch of tomatoes, but with the dry weather the tomato worms are a little problem. I’ve kept everything watered and it looks good.”

But down on the farm, Poole’s cane patch has felt the wrath of Mother Nature.

“Without rain, the cane got hurt and stopped growing, but now it should come back,” he said. “I’ve got an acre of peas that I can get water too, and they’re doing good and the watermelons are going to do all right. If you can get water to plants, they can survive the hot weather. If you can’t, they can’t.”

Poole like everybody, farmer or city slicker, was glad to see the recent rains.

The spread of a farmer’s smile these days depends on how much rain his crops got over the last week or so. The bigger the smile the more inches that fell.

“Everything was mighty thirsty for a drink” said Robert Hughes of Brundidge. “I really enjoyed the rain and it was good to see it coming down. I got about four inches out here but the ground didn’t absorb that much. It was so dry and hard that the biggest portion of the rain just ran off, but we’ll take what we can get and be proud of it.”

Hughes said the corn that he planted in early March got good rain in May and made ‘pretty good.”

“But the corn that was planted late just burned up,” he said. “The corn that was planted in late March and early April is gone unless it was irrigated. All the corn that you see with brown leaves is not going to do anything. The rain came to late to help it. The corn’s gone. We can forget it. Nothing’s going to bring it back and we weren’t going to get anything for it anyway. Grain prices follow crude oil prices. Just watch that.”

Hughes said the peanuts normally lap around the Fourth of July but farmers are planting later so that didn’t happen.

“The peanuts have got a good chance but right now the rain needs to let up so the fields can dry off and we can get back in there to spray,” he said. “Some rain between now and harvest will be helpful and, if we can get some water on the crops, we should be able to do all right with peanuts and the cotton should make. Farming depends on the weather. We’ll just have to wait and see.”