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Rainfall impacting county farms

By Erin Smith

Record rainfall has been falling in Bladen County as well as across North Carolina. For 2018, Bladen County received 64 inches of rainfall. The average amount of rainfall for Bladen County is 50 inches, according to US Climate Data.

The rainfall has had an impact for growers such as Ron Taylor of Lu Mil Vineyard and Dan Ward, a farmer in Clarkton.

“It’s been devastating to my farm and to many farms,” said Taylor.

He explained that grapes, especially the Muscadine variety, do not like water standing on their root systems. Taylor said he is not sure yet what the long-term effects will be of the rainfall.

He said his farm is fortunate as he did not have trellises or posts damaged in Hurricane Florence. Taylor said some grapevines did blow off the lines and they are working now to get the vines back on the lines.

He said overall, he lost about half of his grape crop due to the storm and rains.

Taylor said the rainfall also cost him in terms of agri-tourism. Lu Mil Vineyard offers an annual Christmas light show that is very popular with residents in Bladen County as well as visitors from across the region. Taylor said the constant rainfall since Hurricane Florence impacted the light show this year.

“It cost me untold dollars because of the effect it had on the Lu Mil Light Christmas Show,” said Taylor.

He said there were plenty of visitors to the annual Christmas light show, but many of them did not exit their cars due to the rainfall. The light show offers a country buffet and a candy store offering all manner of old fashioned candies as well as a Visit with Santa. Taylor said this year, with the foul weather, many people completed the light show and left without visiting the candy shop or the buffet.

Taylor said Hurricane Florence also caused damage to the dams on the farm.

“We had to patch the dams to get through the Christmas light show,” said Taylor.

Now he is working on permanent repairs.

Ward said the abnormally wet winter has impacted his farm as well. He said normally in January, they are beginning to apply lime to the fields, but thus far, the fields are simply too wet to access them. He said his crop of winter wheat failed due to the heavy rain as well.

“We’ve done very little field work and field maintenance due to the rain,” said Ward.

He said they completed harvesting soy beans last weekend. Ward said that is the latest they have ever harvested soy beans and it was due to the constant rain.  Ward said the yield on his soy beans was reduced from 40 bushels per acre to 24 bushels per acre.

He said the rain is also hampering efforts to recover from Hurricane Florence on the farm as well. Ward said there are fields with trees down and ditches that need to be repaired but the ground is simply too wet and they are unable to reach those areas.

More rain is in the forecast for the weekend. Saturday’s forecast calls for a high of 66 with a 50 percent chance of rain and on Sunday the high is forecast to reach 57 with 100 percent chance of rain.

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