Heavy rainfall in south Alabama has farmers concerned - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Heavy rainfall in south Alabama has farmers concerned

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The recent storms that swept across the state of Alabama dumped more than a foot of water in many southern counties.

The heavy rain has created additional planting delays in fields that are already water-logged.

"We're at a dead standstill again," said Bert Driskell of Grand Bay in south Mobile County. "With these last two rain events we've gotten about 13 –and-a-half inches of rain, and it all came so fast. We can't get into the fields to do anything."

The soaked soil has farmers waiting for the ground to dry out in order for them to finish planting their crops. Driskell, who is a Mobile County Farmers Federation board member, said he usually is finished planting corn by now, but he currently has less than 50 percent in the ground. He has also just fertilized the planted corn and fears that he may lose some of the expensive input costs that are invested in the crop. He is also facing a time crunch to finish planting corn so he can move on to peanuts and cotton.

"We probably have about 20 percent of peanut crop planted, but this delay will tighten up the time we have to get the rest of it done," Driskell said. "That makes it tough at harvest time, too, since we can't spread out harvest over several weeks like we'd prefer."

Sessions Farm, which is also located in Grand Bay, is well into its spring vegetable season and began harvesting cabbage last week. Some of their fields however were partially submerged Tuesday, including a large field of squash.

"Our vegetables have been taking a beating the past month with cold weather and now the rain," said Jeremy Sessions. "I don't think the crops are going to be nearly as good as we hoped, but you never can tell. We had to replant our peas because the flood last week rotted them out. It's been brutal this year."

At Sirmon Farms in Baldwin County, part of the sweet potato crop was washed out. Farmer Joel Sirmon said up to ten acres were under up to a foot of water.

"This is the third real heavy rain we've had this year," said Sirmon, who has only planted sweet potatoes and corn so far. "We're supposed to be planting peanuts and cotton right now, but it's too wet for that. You can't get down. You've got to keep on going. You've got to have faith. This is how we make our living."

Similar stories are frequent across south Alabama, from Washington County where Walt Richardson said he has ten acres of corn under water, to Henry County where Thomas Adams said the fields were wet with standing water.

"Everything we've planted seems to be holding up well, but we keep getting farther behind," said Adams, who is the Henry County Farmers Federation president. "We are blessed to have missed the high winds and tornadoes."

In Houston County, Alabama Farmers Federation Southeast Vice President George Jeffcoat said he received almost five inches of rain from the storms. While it has postponed his planting, Jeffcoat said he was thankful that there was no wind damage.

For farmer Jimmy Royce Helms in Geneva County, the news is better as his current crop rotation calls for 300 acres of peanuts, 150 acres of cotton and 50 acres of corn. The heavy rains washed out some of his prepared terraces, but he has not planted any seed yet this season.

"We had the fields ready, but didn't have anything in the ground," Helms said. "We're not suffering. It'll be the middle of next week before we start planting."

Carl Sanders, who is the Federation's District 10 director and president of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association, said farmers in his area of Coffee County are falling behind with planting intentions.

Alabama Farmers Federation District 11 Director Sammy Gibbs, who farms in Escambia and Monroe Counties, said he has several flooded cornfields.

The National Weather Service office in Mobile received reports of more than 20 inches of rain during the storms. The Mobile Regional Airport reported a record 11.24 inches of rain and the monthly rainfall is almost 13 inches above normal.

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