Rain is a good thing, but local farmers are facing the effects of having too much rain, causing problems that might limit production after a record-setting year, due to disease and other complications, according to experts.
"This has been a very unusual summer with all this rain," said Michael Donahoe, UF IFAS County Extension Director. "It's possible if the rain continues, some could lose half of their crop."
Recent rain has saturated farms in the area, leading to problems affecting production, according to the director. Some farmers growing corn this year have been unable to harvest their crop, unable to get equipment into their field. They are left to wait until the fields dry out enough to harvest.
"There's a good bit of standing water in places," Donahoe said. "The rain does not allow the farmers to get in and do what they need to do."
Rain this summer has driven the peanut fields to reach "peak water requirements," according to the director. The rainfall has leeched out fertilizer from the soil, stunting the growth of peanuts and cotton. Too much rain and standing water increases the risk of plant disease, which can be detrimental to a farmer's crop. Standing water on the surface of the soil suffocates the plant of oxygen necessary for growth and development.
Farmers do have some recourse in combating diseases such as bowl rot, root rot and certain types of mold that destroy plant life and reduce production. Donahoe said fungicides are available to slow the severity of the disease, but they do not eradicate a crop of disease, merely suppress sickness.
A lot of farmers in the area utilize ground-spraying equipment to apply fertilizers. When fields are inaccessible, farmers turn to the sole crop-dusting company in the area, Donahoe said. In periods of high demand, the company could become backlogged, leaving some fields untreated for days.
Peanut harvesting begins late next month, according to Donahoe. He says production levels will likely be down from last year, but remains optimistic overall.
"If this rain will let up, we'll still have a very good year," said Mike Donahoe, UF IFAS County Extension Director. "Last year, we had a record peanut crop."