Farmers see varying success with crops

Published 10:17 pm Friday, July 20, 2012

Corn: A cornfield along Whaleyville Boulevard reaches toward the sky on Friday. Corn in the area is at its vital stage of development and needs rain to produce a bumper crop, local farmers said. (Tracy Agnew/Suffolk News-Herald)

Suffolk farmers are hoping for a little bit more rain this week as some of their crops reach the critical stage in their growth cycle.

Precipitation is forecast throughout the weekend, but where it will fall is anybody’s guess.

“The rains have been spotty,” said Joe Barlow Sr., who farms in the Chuckatuck area. “Some people get more than they need, and others don’t get any.”

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Barlow said the corn crop is at its peak and needs moisture to fill out.

“One more rain or maybe two more rains will take care of that,” he said. “But I don’t count it until I get it in the barn.”

Watson Lawrence, the agricultural extension agent in Chesapeake, said farmers in the area have been fortunate with the corn crop this year, particularly with prices rising because of severe drought in other areas of the country.

“Price of all the commodities — wheat, corn and soybeans — are about as high as I’ve ever seen them, due to the impending bad news coming out of the Midwest,” Lawrence said. “Their hard luck can actually be our good fortune this year.”

Lawrence said area farmers will begin harvesting the corn crop about a month from now.

“We’re anticipating a good corn yield,” he said.

Barlow added that the cornfields throughout the area look about as good as he’s ever seen them.

The cotton crop at Barlow’s farm also is beginning to bloom and needs a little moisture soon to produce a good harvest, he said.

“We still need not excess moisture, but a little moisture,” he said. “We don’t need a gullywasher, but if we had our druthers we’d have half an inch every other day. That would be perfect, but we don’t live in a perfect world.”

Lawrence said most farmers in the area had a good wheat crop and planted soybeans behind the wheat. It’s too soon to tell how the soybeans look, he added.

He also said fruit and vegetable producers throughout the area are happy with their success this season, which has been particularly helped by the growing popularity of farmers’ markets and individual farm stands.

“It seems to get stronger every year,” Lawrence said. “Our little farmers’ markets are hopping, and we’re really pleased about that.”