Soybean crop "worst in 25 years" in SE NC because of wet weather

Published: Nov. 20, 2015 at 4:56 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 20, 2015 at 10:50 PM EST
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SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - There's no doubt that it has been raining... a lot!

The Wilmington almanac proves it with rainfall totals about 15 inches above average.

Saturated soils and standing water is not only an issue when more rain falls, but the showers and storms are negatively impacting farmers.

"I can tell you that this has been the worst soybean crop in 25 years," said Charles Rooks with Rooks Farm Service. "The rain has really hurt us."

"All of the maturity groups of soybeans are going to have some damage in them at different places," said North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Regional Agronomist Tim Hall said.

Soybean farmers in southeastern North Carolina are experiencing damaged crops as well as flooded fields. The muddy and wet grounds make the crops inaccessible to the farmers.

"We're having a problem year as the pods begin dehiscing and we have prolonged wetness," commented Hall. "We've has a lot of disease problems in the seed itself, which is basically causing the seed to rot. Additionally, we have seeds that are sprouting and germinating in the hull."

"Part of the issue is periods of cloudy, wet weather where the plant canopy just does not have any time to dry out," Hall added. "Initially, it's slowing the harvest and the longer the crops stay in the ground the more damage they'll have."

"We're getting docked for so many things," Savage Farms Owner Billy Savage added. "There's about 200 less bushels every load you haul because they weigh less and then you get docked for moisture. Every load just about we've picked has had high moisture because the atmosphere just won't dry out. The yield is about a third off of what it would normally be."

The lower yield from the field is only part of the problem. Depending on the quality of the soybeans, diseased crops could lower the total yield that's sent out from the farm.

What does all of this mean to you, the consumer?

Since most soybeans are processed and exported for their oil and protein to be used in animal feed, milk, flour and tofu, experts say you won't necessarily see the effects in stores just yet.

Either the prices will be lower because of the lower quality beans or the prices will be higher because of the shortage of quality beans. It all depends if distributors decide the crop is good enough for processing.

"The losses are going to be very real as far as the farmer's pocketbook goes," Hall said.

"I'm hoping I'll get something out of the crop insurance," Savage who has been farming for over 50 years explained. "You know,  if I were a younger farmer and had a whole lot of debt it would really be significant and personally I couldn't stand many years of this either even though I've farmed a lot of years."

"Even if you have a talented producer, like Savage, we don't have a crystal ball and we can't predict what the weather will be like a year out at harvest time," commented Hall. "It's tough and this year just isn't the year."

Other crops struggling from this year's excess rain are wheat and corn.

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