More rain needed, farmers say

Published 11:01 pm Friday, July 8, 2011

Drought continues despite rain

After a dry spring and early summer, a week full of thunderstorms has brought precious little relief to farmers in Suffolk.

A deluge on Monday evening rained out July 4 fireworks throughout the area, and other storms have dumped rain throughout the week. However, the erratic nature of the thunderstorms also means the relief has been spotty, farmer David Bosselman said.


Email newsletter signup

“I’ve got some corn that looks just as bad as it did last year, and I’ve got some corn that looks pretty good,” he said. “It’s real dependent on where those little pop-up showers have hit.”

The city still is under moderate drought conditions, said Eric Seymour, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service office in Wakefield.

“We’re still recovering,” he said. “While we’ve seen some pretty good rains, the heavy amounts have been pretty localized. Some areas may see more improvement than other areas.”

Bosselman grows peanuts, cotton, soybeans, wheat and rye in addition to corn at several farms throughout Suffolk. He said some fields have received plenty of rain and some have received hardly any.

“I don’t think we’ve had a whole lot of relief from the drought,” he said. “It’s just a temporary thing unless we get some more rain.”

The moderate drought designation the city currently is under means the city is in the initial stages of drought, which is indicated by a falling groundwater table and streams running below normal flows, Seymour said. The next drought update will be released Thursday.

Glenn Slade, an extension agent in Surry County, said crops there have improved with the recent rains.

“We’re still a long way from harvest, but it has made a big difference in what our crops look like,” Slade said, referring especially to peanuts, soybeans and cotton. But, he added, “It’s going to take some more rain to get them to the reproductive stage.”

The wheat crop was relatively good, Slade said, and vegetables and livestock also are faring well.

Though the situation hasn’t gotten as bad as last year, when farmers experienced massive losses in most crops, those who depend upon the rain to make a living still are keeping their eyes on the skies.

“Hopefully we’ll continue to get some decent rains over the next month or so,” Seymour said.