link to Home Page

icon Crop Failures Increase in 2000

Farmer:’Sometimes it feels like we're getting ganged up on'
By Wayne Drash,, September 22, 2000

The heavy rains unleashed by Tropical Storm Helene couldn't come at a worse time for farmers in the southeastern United States, who were finally ready to harvest after enduring a drought-stricken summer. Lots of rain is the last thing farmers need during harvest. "It's not a very good time to have this amount of rain in our state," Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin told "We needed some of this rain spread out in July and August, but you usually don't get it when you need it." Billy Griggs, a farmer of peanuts and cotton in south-central Georgia, echoed those sentiments. "We just couldn't get any rain from April to almost the middle of September, and now we're at harvesting time ... and it's raining," said Griggs, who has farmed for 31 years. "Sometimes it feels like we're getting ganged up on."

Georgia is the No. 1 producer of peanuts in the nation, producing roughly 38 percent of the nation's crop. The state also ranks third in cotton production. Farmers need dry conditions for the best crop yield, and large amounts of rain disrupt the harvesting process. At worst, peanut vines can get so damaged that the peanuts can't be picked. Too much rain on cotton during harvest can hurt crop quality or knock the cotton off the plants, making it unusable. "You get too much rain during harvest time and it can drown you," said commissioner Irvin. "A lot of people don't realize how devastating lots of rain can be until it happens." Roy Baxley, president of the Southern Cotton Growers Inc., a regional organization that represents farmers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, said the Southeastern U.S. cotton crop had been on schedule to produce well until the last week or so. The Carolinas had a good crop until a tropical storm moved through in recent days - and now forecasters predict Helene's remnants will soak the region. "These two tropical storms I think are going to put a damper on (our crops)," said Baxley, a cotton farmer in South Carolina. "As of tonight, we will have seen our second tropical storm in a week. It's going to hurt us yield-wise and quality-wise." He said cotton growers in drought-stricken regions of Alabama, Florida and Georgia would have the toughest time coping with Helene's rains. "It's kind of like you have a minor catastrophe," Baxley said, "and then all of a sudden something comes along and blindsides you."

Fickle weather giving farmers trouble in U.S.
Kelli Miller,, July 30, 2000

Sloppy, soggy weather darkened skies over nearly the entire eastern half of the United States Sunday, delivering rain from the Canadian border all the way to Texas. The rains offered a much-needed glass of water to the drought-stricken regions of the East Coast. Georgia, and several other states, saw showers and thunderstorms off and on again throughout the weekend. The National Weather Service called some of the rains "beneficial." So who doesn't want this wet weather? Farmers. Believe it or not, the same farmers who coped with devastating droughts now say they can't win. The rain they've received is either too little or too much. Recent unseasonable downpours from Maryland to Massachusetts are washing away seeds, drowning young plants and causing rot and fungus. Now farmers are hoping for sun to dry up the ground.

Miserable summer spells gloom for French farmers
Reuters, July 28, 2000

Cereals and oilseeds crops had weathered an excessively dry spring and early summer and were on target for healthy, if not record production in 2000. Harvesting had only just begun when freak storms lashed the north of the country on July 2 and 3, downing power lines and damaging crops. Farmers reported wheat crops completely flattened by hail and rapeseed fields had turned white as violent winds split open stems. Persistent rains, which dampened the country's expensive Bastille Day celebrations, have since prevented growers from bringing in their already mature crops. "The problem is when it pours down on mature cereals," said a Paris analyst, noting that part of the wheat crop had started to sprout, a phenomenon which causes enzyme changes and reduces the baking value of milling wheat.