Even if Hurricane Michael hadn’t hit, the 2018 harvest season would still be near a disaster in many ways.
The day after Michael, the sun shone and near-record temperatures as high as the lower 90s fell over Florida, Georgia and Alabama for a week. After that, you could count on your hands, maybe even one hand, the number of days rain didn’t fall along the Gulf Coast region of the southeast, and it has remained soggy since well into the Carolinas, too.
It was big, mushy, can’t-get-into-fields kind of rain, too.
Jody Childs texted to me a graph generated by his farm log that showed between May 6 and Dec.14 his farm in southeast Alabama received 59 inches of rain, with a third of that rainfall coming from Michael and from a string of thunderstorms over the two months following the storm.
It’s Dec. 20 as I post this, and it’s raining in southwest Georgia. It’s raining in the panhandle of Florida, and it is raining at Childs’ farm, and the area is expected to get about two inches or more. Flash flood warnings are issued; same as the previous week. The storm system is forecast to move up into the Carolinas and Virginia and bring flash flooding there, too.
When it hasn’t been raining, Childs said he's been able to pick cotton about two days a week, “but we’ll get through it eventually.”
Matt Bryan farms in Baker County, Ga., about 100 miles east of Childs. Bryan finished harvesting his cotton and peanuts, but grazing for his cows ‘was terrible. Normally, we turn in before Thanksgiving, but haven't turned in yet. It won't grow, plus it's a boggy mess.”
Michael greatly crippled pecan production along the gulf, and the rain since has driven down quality and made low prices even lower, said Lenny Wells, University of Georgia Extension pecan specialist. Pecan growers have had a hard time harvesting what Michael left behind, which wasn’t much.
From cover crops to cow-calf operations to soil sampling to cleaning pastures, fencing, orchards, barns or homes, getting what Michael left had left many producers ill prepared for 2019.
Hate to complain about rain; hate to complain at all since Michael. Just stating facts. We could have used more sunshine after the storm, but we know it’s coming. Optimism is a symptom of faith.
The past year was one heck of a year, and there is no reason at all to think 2019 won’t be another heck of a year. Let’s pray it’s one heck of a healthy, safe and abundant year.
Good luck. Take care, and thanks for reading.