"Whatever corn and tobacco that was left in the field we've essentially written off," he commented.
According to Carroll, early estimates show a loss of approximately
"The problem is some of the corn snapped off right above the ear and it's unclear whether the stalk will actually be able to be pulled through the combine," he explained. "The other problem is that the ears are soaking wet and it's essentially seed, so it's going to start germinating and then it becomes useless."
Carroll said damage to area cotton crops varied widely. Due to an already unusually wet summer, some cotton was planted later than normal this year, he said.
"We had such a wide planting date that some of the cotton will continue to grow. If the bolls do not rot from being blown over and laying on the ground, then we'll harvest probably half of that crop. Some of the earlier planted cotton is probably a 50 to 60 percent loss."
The hurricane's impact on local peanuts crops was more difficult to evaluate, said Carroll. Many peanut farmers whose fields were flooded from storm surge will face a total loss, he commented.
"That peanut is in the ground and it simply rots. We have a lot of peanuts on
However, some crops that are used in animal feed, such as corn, may be salvaged for that purpose, Carroll noted. He said the
"In many cases those crops can be taken directly to animal feed places and used," he said. "But we only have so many buying stations and a lot of people simply can't get there, so that's another issue that we're having to deal with."
Carroll said casual observers may have a hard time distinguishing damaged crops from those that came through unscathed.
"Some of the tobacco, it may still physically be there, but the leaves were so badly bruised and beaten and then any high moisture content in that leaf and it will simply rot in the barn," he said.
Fortunately, said Carroll,
"We kept them watered and fed, it's awesome," he stated.
Carroll said he was unaware of any problems with the spillage of pesticides, fertilizers or other farming chemicals during the storm.
In his 35 years as an agriculture extension agent, Carroll said he had never seen a storm cause as much widespread crop damage as Hurricane Florence,
"It's been a year of unique experiences. I've never seen crops planted so late nor have I seen a storm that had this combination of wind and rain."
For some farmers, the losses they suffered in the storm may be enough to drive them from the profession altogether, said Carroll.
"What many people will have to do is borrow from equity and farm equipment and refinance. Some of the older farmers may decide this is enough, they're going to retire, we may lose some. I was talking to a lady recently and she said 'Three generations built the farm and one day destroyed it.' That to me really hit home."
"So far, no soybeans or cotton have been harvested, but most of the corn and tobacco has been," he explained.
At this early stage, Killette said he was unable to estimate the financial loss to
"That will help me to get as accurate of a dollar amount as possible," he noted.
Like Carroll, Killette said farming is an inherently risky business, with few fallback options in times of severe weather.
"One fact that is certain, is that farmers are always in constant battle with the weather," Killette said. "It's hard to say that next year's weather will be any different than this year. The perfect year, meaning the perfect amount of rain and sun, are hard to come by."
Killette said farmers who sustained losses as a result of Hurricane Florence will be able to benefit from federal crop insurance to cover their damages, assuming they had crop insurance prior to the hurricane. Other agencies, such as the
But with the amount of damage sustained from Hurricane Florence, it will be hard for some area crop farmers to fully recover from the loss, he admitted.
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