Archive for June 15, 2009

Southeast Georgia Blueberries, Tobacco Ruined by Rain


BLACKSHEAR – Blueberry season is a washout for most Southeast Georgia growers.

Colder-than-normal weather decimated high-bush blueberries early in the season. Heavy rains over the past several weeks have ruined much of the rabbit-eye berries now in the fields, which have been too muddy to harvest, University of Georgia Agriculture Extension Service agents said.

“The question is not can we salvage the season, it’s can we harvest what we’ve got and make it attractive to the market?” said Danny Stanaland, area blueberry agent for the extension service.

Mom’s blueberries bear so heavily that even with 50% of her blueberries lost, there is still quite enough for both of us! I’ve had blueberry bushes here before; unfortunately, the heavy clay soil and lack of drainage ensures unhappy, sickly plants that die just because a tropical storm dumps 10″ or 20″ of rain and they are under a few inches of water for a week or so. Prima donnas.

The rains also have taken a heavy toll on tobacco, peanuts and cotton in Coffee, Pierce and Ware counties, as well as the rest of the region, county agents said.

“It’s too late to replant tobacco,” said James Jacobs, county agent for adjacent Pierce and Ware counties.

Jacobs said the rains pounded many of the young plants into the ground, while others were washed out or rotting in waterlogged fields.

He estimated at least 25 percent are going to have to replant their peanuts and cotton because of rotted seed and washed out plants. The corn crop also has been seriously damaged because of flooding and erosion, Jacobs said.

Soggy fields are preventing Coffee County farmers from applying herbicides, replanting or harvesting their crops, county agent Eddie McGriff said.

To make up for the tobacco loss, McGriff said, a majority of Coffee farmers are replanting with peanuts or cotton.

Jacobs expects many Pierce and Ware farmers now will plant soybeans as well as peanuts in an effort to offset their losses.

The Florida potato farmers aren’t alone in their losses from unseasonal rain this year. OTOH, the people with the pine plantations are grateful that their trees didn’t go up in smoke due to the drought breaking when it did.

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