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Irrigation Still Viable Option Even in Wet Summer

In 2012, irrigation got a lot of press, with many producers installing systems as fast as possible to get the most out of high corn prices. This year we’ve not heard much about irrigation because it’s been such an unusually wet summer and corn prices aren’t as high.

But, farmers know that wet summers won’t continue, so irrigation isn’t far from their minds. James Russell Boyd, Blackland farmer in Beaufort and Washington Counties has installed quite a bit of irrigation and even in a wet year such as this, found it beneficial:

“The corn we actually weighed and checked, it was irrigated, picked 255.6 bushels.”

So, what kind of yield difference did irrigation make on Boyd’s corn?:

“We irrigated this corn four times intermittently, when we first started it was not that wet but we got it to grow with irrigation and it did a great job. It was better than the non-irrigated corn by about 20 bushels.”

Boyd explains that with irrigation he’s been able to plant late-season corn behind wheat:

“Where we had wheat under irrigation, we are going back and putting corn behind wheat and irrigating that.”

Through Boyd’s normal rotation scheme, some cotton ended up under irrigation this year:

“We had three systems on cotton and we used them a lot. We haven’t picked the cotton yet, but you can tell where the irrigation stopped, the cotton is bigger under the circle than it is out of the circle.”

Boyd says he’s not through installing irrigation, but is going to step away from the center pivot system:

“The irrigated was so much better, about 25-30 bushels where we irrigated, but now we have some land where we are putting in some drainage, and we pumped in the water in the canal and let it back feed under the land, that’s our new plan.”

We’ll catch up with Blacklands farmer James Russell Boyd later in the season and talk cotton numbers. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.