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Bogged down: Deep South farmers look for dry groundBogged down: Deep South farmers look for dry ground

“I don’t know if I have a field I can plant all of. We’re going to try and plant the high spots and then come back and fill back in," said Mark Hanna.

Brad Haire

May 5, 2014

2 Min Read
<p>MUDDY FARMHANDS work to dig out one of Mark Hanna&rsquo;s tractors stuck in a field, not an unusual site in south Georgia as April ended up being one of the wettest on record in the region, leaving fields too soggy to work and farmers behind on planting peanuts and cotton.</p>

It took Mark Hanna and crew about eight hours to dig the tractor out. It had sunk deep enough in the field for the driver to step out of the door and onto land without having to use the steps.

Hanna farms around Donalsonville, Ga., located in southwest Georgia near both the Florida and Alabama lines along the Chattahoochee River. And last week, the area received 6 to 7 inches of rain over three days. Some places got more. For April, the area received more than 20 inches of rain with nearly half of the days in the month having rain. On April 7 alone 6 inches of rain fell.

The fields are waterlogged and farmers are behind.

“I don’t know if I have a field I can plant all of. We’re going to try and plant the high spots and then come back and fill back in. We don’t have peanuts or cotton planted. We were going to start two weeks ago but haven’t been able to. We’re trying to start up a cotton planter today and find some spots to plant,” Hanna said May 5. He is easily two weeks behind in planting peanuts and cotton.

He was able to plant his corn timely, ending the last week of March. But he said he has two corn fields he hasn’t been able to get back into since due to the rain. He’s had to fly on corn fertilizer, and about 25 percent of his corn is behind in potash and nitrogen applications. He’s had to fly in herbicides, too, for the fields.

Hanna is no stranger to flooding. He farms along the Chatthoochee River. And in 1994 and 1998, he got flooded out by historic floods. But those floods came during the growing season. He said this has been about as difficult a planting season as he has had, and he’s been farming most of his life and fulltime for more than 30 years.

As for the stuck tractor: “We don’t know really what happened. There is a bottom there and the rainfall created a new waterway there parallel with the old waterway in the field. Instead of trying to repair it, we were just going to shape it up and make a waterway out of it and the tractor just fell out.”

Sunny skies and higher temperatures are forecasted for the region this week. But rain looms in the near future.

“We've got some places we can run this week. And we just hope we miss the rain (forecasted for) this weekend and some of these fields that are too wet right now will be dry enough by the end of the week,” he said.

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