Jackson County Extension Director Doug Mayo said on Tuesday afternoon he soon will be recommending to FSA that Jackson County be declared crop disaster area for 2013, due to the heavy rains throughout the growing season. "The USDA's Farm Service Agency is in charge of that," Mayo said, "but I feel like they will do it. It's definitely something I'm recommending." FSA officials are able to declare a disaster, allowing farms to become eligible for assistance, if estimated crop losses are 30 percent or more.
Peanuts come out of the ground in a few weeks; cotton is harvested mostly in October and November. "It's not too late for some farms to make a good crop this year," Mayo said. "The rainfall was so spotty. Last year was a great year. Comparatively, it was almost perfect last year, but this year will not be good for our commodities. If you look at the color of the crop, particularly cotton, you can tell it's not doing well." The heavy rains allow fungus and mold on the cotton, and push the nutrients away from the peanut roots. Also, farmers had trouble this year obtaining enough aerial crop dusters which were in high demand due to the farmers' inability to get into the flooded fields with tractors.
Mayo's office released the rainfall and temperature chart, updated for August, to the TIMES on Tuesday morning. (See chart with this article) But not only was July and August heavy in rains, this UF Florida Weather Network illustration only shows the rainfall for the gauge at the experiment station in Greenwood, which, this year in particular, can tell only half the story. The Greenwood levels were at "the bottom" of the range, Mayo said. Other places, especially Campbellton, received as much as twice the amount shown in the chart for August. Bascom grower Jeff Pittman reported earlier this month that his gauge showed "14 inches since Friday." He said that on Tuesday, August 20, after the weekend of August 16-18, which was the weekend the Jackson County Cattleman's Association rodeo got hit. He said then that he was looking at losses of "at least 30 percent." That weekend alone may have doomed much of this year's crop, Mayo said.
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