Rain, Rain, Go Away!

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Approximately 200,000 acres of wheat were planted this fall in North Carolina. This is about half the number of acres typically planted. There is one big reason for this drastic reduction – rain!

Saturated fields kept farmers from harvesting corn and soybeans in a timely manner. In fact, there are some corn and soybean fields that have still not been harvested! Where farmers were able to harvest the previous crop, in some cases they were not able to get back into the fields to sow wheat. It was just too wet.

Now it is too late to plant wheat and expect to make a profitable crop in North Carolina. The reduced acres will likely have an effect on wheat prices come harvest time. The good ole’ law of supply and demand should have a positive influence on wheat prices for farmers. However, this is the only potential bright spot on the horizon I see for North Carolina crop farmers. And you know the old saying, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” We could still have a late freeze that damages what wheat farmers were able to get planted.

Rain has also had an effect on pastures and hayfields across the state. The wet conditions have prevented fall plantings of forage crops. Even good established fields may see some damage if they were flooded for several days. However, we will not know until things start growing this spring.

Even healthy, well-established pastures are suffering if there are animals in the field. Cattle are cutting up the saturated ground with their hooves. Many upland pastures are literally turning to soup with the 2-3 inch rains we’ve been receiving.

These pastures and hayfields can recover, but they will need proper management. In some situations, the fields will need to be replanted, and in other situations, weeds will need to be kept from out-competing the weakened grass.

To help farmers with pasture and hayfield recovery, there will be a program at the Piedmont Research Station. This program is open to anyone wishing to attend but is designed for farmers that manage pastures and hayfields. The reason for having the meeting at the research station is to see the test plots. The program is divided into three sections:

  1. Update on forage variety plots for tall fescue, orchardgrass, ryegrass, alfalfa, and alfalfa-grass mixtures.
  2. Establishment and weed management options for early- and late-plantings of tall fescue, orchardgrass, alfalfa, ryegrass, and small grain forage cover crops (i.e. spring oats, wheat, rye).
  3. Discussion of examples and specific cases for establishment and maintenance of cool-season annual and perennial forages in North Carolina.

This program will take place at the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services’ Piedmont Research Station (Salisbury, NC) on February 13, 2019. The program will start at 2 p.m. This program is headed up by Dr. Miguel Castillo, Dr. Ramon Leon, and Dr. Fred Yelverton. All three instructors are N.C. Cooperative Extension faculty at NC State University. They specialize in Forage Management, Weed Biology, and Forage Weed Management, respectively.

If you have any questions about this program, please contact Seth Nagy, County Extension Director at the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Caldwell County Center, at 828-757-1290 or by email at seth_nagy@ncsu.edu.