Muddy fields stymie area farmers Fertilizing, tilling and planting are running up to a month behind

April 08, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

Everything is good in moderation. At least that's how Carroll County farmers feel about the unusually heavy rain and snowfall this spring.

"The tremendous amount of rain is creating an inability to get things done," said Carroll County Extension Agent David Greene.

Farmers can't run their equipment over the muddy ground and soaked fields, which has pushed spring fertilizing, tilling and planting back a month or more, he said. That is frustrating many county farmers.

"It's like when you have a lawn you're trying to do work on one day or so a week," Taneytown farmer Ronald Sewell said. "Only we have a lot bigger lawn to take care of."

Corn crops, which should be planted by late April or early May, are the biggest concern, several Carroll farmers said.

Corn needs continually clear and mild weather, or several days of unusually warm weather, to dry out the fields.

Soybeans, which are usually sown in mid-May, probably will be unaffected.

"Everything in farming is timing," said Uniontown farmer Robert Bounds. "You just have to beat a certain schedule to get the optimum yields. If you get kicked behind, that puts a lot of pressure on you."

In response to the weather problems, some farmers might reduce the number of times they fertilize crops or eliminate entire plantings.

"A lot of us will end up redirecting our operations," Mr. Bounds said. "We need to reallocate our time to get caught up. The stress level will increase, I'm sure of that."

He also said no-till practices will save many farmers time this year.

"This has been a real progressive county for years, out in the front with cultural practices," he said. "If every farmer had to go out and stir the soil two or three times, we'd really have a problem."

But Mr. Bounds said the rainfall is causing more concern than genuine worry.

"As far as yield or financial outcomes [being affected], no one can say at this point in time," he said. "A lot of the pressure is real, and a lot of it is imagined."

And some farmers said the excess rain would be a blessing in the long run.

"The water table had gotten so low, it was scary," Mr. Bounds said. "I thank God every day for every drop of water that has fallen.

"We're going into this year having good moisture in the subsoil, so we're not going to have to depend on every drop of water that comes down.

Harold Mercer, a grain farmer in southern Carroll County, agreed.

"The moisture table is up higher than it has been in many a year," he said.

"I'm one who believes it's better when the water table is up where the roots can go down to get the water.

"We'd like to have some of these showers in July, but beggars can't be choosers."

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