The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

May 6, 2013

State's farmers cope with cool temps, saturated soil

— ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) — Alabama farmers say they're trying to cope with several weeks of cool temperatures and excessive rainfall, which has oversaturated the soil.

Agriculture experts say that has slowed farming across the state, which could threaten yields.

Farmer Keith Bryant tells The Anniston Star ( that he's being slowed down in his efforts to plant 400 acres of cotton this year. But he said his cotton harvest will be fine as long as he can plant by May 15.

Bryant normally has all his cotton planted by now.

This year, however, the Alexandria farmer had yet to sow a single seed by late April.

"I need to plant cotton and cut hay," Bryant said. "We need to be in the field and can't hardly do it right now because of all the rain."

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Alabama field office show that the amount of crops planted so far this year in the state are far below what was planted during the same period last year and the five-year average for the state.

For instance, 70 percent of the state's corn was planted the week of April 28 -- less than the 92 percent of corn planted by the same time last year. The five-year state average 84 percent for corn planted during that timeframe.

About 15 percent of the Alabama's cotton was planted by April 28, a decrease from the 23 percent planted over the same period last year.

Excessive rain has been impacting farmers across the state, said Bill Weaver, director of the Alabama field office for the Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

"We're hearing reports of farmers having a hard time getting corn in the ground and early soybeans because it's so wet," Weaver said.

David West, extension coordinator for Calhoun County Extension Office, said he's heard of area farmers having a tough time this season due to the rain.

"It's too wet for folks to get in the fields in a lot of instances," West said. "Farmers with large equipment to get in and out are going to get delayed."

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