Prior to Hurricane Irene making landfall last Saturday, we heard from John Burleson, independent crop consultant and agronomist in Hyde County, near Swan Quarter, about the preparations that were being made for the storm.
Now, five days after, Burleson says it could have been worse:
“We sustained a lot of wind and water damage, today the tide has gone out on a lot of our crop land, which is good to see. I’d say that our corn crop probably took the worst damage, most of our growers were almost through with harvest, so that’s good. But, what corn remains is blown over, and what cotton we defoliated before the storm actually looks good so that’s promising, soybeans look better than expected, as well.”
Burleson says that all the corn had been harvested with the exception of about 3,000 acres, and most of those acres were so heat and drought stressed, that they probably wouldn’t have been harvested, anyway.
When we heard from Burleson last week, he told us then that salt water sitting in fields was a major concern:
“How long this tide water stays in is going to determine how soybeans fare and cotton, too. We had some cotton that was under for two or three days, that’s still a big concern, and salt water intrusion is a problem.”
And there was a significant tract of land that saw a major storm surge:
“There’s probably a 3,000 acre block of land that saw that kind of a storm surge, so that’s not good. That’s just not good.”
Burleson says that if crop land sits under salt water for too long, there’s no real fix:
“Over time that can get flushed out of the land, if it’s not that bad, or if the salt water didn’t stay there for an extended period. Some crops will grow a little better on land that’s had that kind of damage, but on the whole that’s not something you want to see.”
As far as what farmers need right now:
“Farmers would like to see the tide go out, that would be the most important thing that could happen. That’s what needs to happen. As a whole, I’d say the county is in decent shape, in terms of where the tide’s going right now, but certain pockets of the county need the water to get off quickly.”
But, all in all Burleson says that Hyde County is doing okay…