While it’s been going on three months since Hurricane Irene made landfall at Cape Lookout North Carolina the affects of the hurricane on farmers east of I-95 are still being felt today. Kevin Gardener farms corn, tobacco, cotton and soybeans, based in Macclesfield, NC:
“The 95 corridor east was destroyed by Irene as far as the cotton crop, the tobacco crop and the folks who still had corn in the field. And the corn wasn’t hurt so bad as it was just blown down, made it aggravating to pick, you know if it was blown north to south, you had to pick one way. We had a gentleman right here next to us that he picked one way, turned around picked the other way and it was a 15 bushel difference being blown north to south. So, he picked his entire crop one way. That’s a lot of cost to pick one way.
As far as the cotton crop, the earlier varieties of cotton that open early, the wind just beat the cotton out of the bolls. Your later varieties, the bolls that weren’t open yet, the wind beat them so bad they weren’t quite mature, they hard-locked. A hard-lock boll isn’t going to open, and boll that the cotton has blowed you ain’t going to get nothing from it. and with the adequate rain that we’d had all year long, we were looking at a 1000 pound crop.”
As we heard from NC Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler yesterday, the cotton crop showed the largest losses due to the hurricane, and Gardner explains how those losses occurred on his farm:
“Thank the good Lord we’ve been averaging 1000 pound for the last three years, prior to this year. Our 1000 pound crop we immediately lost 200 pounds from the storm; blowed out at least 200 pounds. Now, you’re losing another 150 to 200 pounds due to hard-lock bolls, now this cotton is blown at 45 degree angles, east to west, or blown down the road north to south, you losing another 100 pound picking. When that row unit tries to stand that cotton up, it was just such a hard shape and it falls right down the side of the plant, like it just snowed right down the side of it.”
Tomorrow we’ll hear about how Gardner and his family salvaged their tobacco crop on Today’s Topic.