Rainy spring puts a damper on farmers’ work routines

DOVER — Rain, rain please go away.

Crops aren’t planted in soaked fields, it’s just not possible. Even when it stops pouring, the ground needs time to dry.

“It adds a layer of stress for a farmer or farm manager on top of the other things that cause stress in our business as it is,” Delaware Farm Bureau

President Richard Wilkins said early Monday afternoon as rain continued dropping from gray skies.

Farmers often hope for conditions to break their way, but maybe not to this degree.

“We’re used to the uncertainty of the weather but not this much water,” EZ Farms’s Elizabeth Zimmerman said from her home in Dover.

According to Barbara Morton of Camden-Wyoming’s Morton Farm, “It’s a pain in the neck because I can’t cut my hay.”

There’s hope for four dry days to enter the 20-acre hayfield and then two more to cut it up. Then the round and square bales can’t get doused again.

“You anticipate Memorial weekend for finishing up so we still have a bit of time,” Ms. Morton said. “It’s frustrating because you don’t know at this point if the weather will allow that,” Ms. Morton.

After spending 13 hours a day last week when the sun shone down, Dan Palmer remained idled at TA Farms Monday in Camden-Wyoming. Roughly 60 percent of his corn is planted and the soybeans await.

“It increases your amount of time spent on some crazy days,” Mr. Palmer said. “Then you sit for a week. Last week we had three days of decent weather and had to do as much as we could as fast as we could.

“We’ve got some stuff planted but we should be done with the corn and soybeans. It’s a matter of timing and the rain throws off what we’d like to do. ”

Partial sunny skies may arrive Wednesday, but there’s still a damp overtone to getting outside again.

“It seem like we’ve had a longer period of wet than I can remember,” Mr. Palmer said. “Usually it goes from one extreme to another but we’re still waiting for the other.”

The corn is planted but soybeans still aren’t in the ground Ms. Zimmerman said. The seeds are paid for but there’s nowhere to bury them.

“And with the China tariffs issues, I don’t know who will be buying anything anyway,” Ms. Zimmerman.

Saturated soil can kill crops outright or increase the possibility of diseases.

“A fungicide treatment can be applied to wheat to help protect from diseases but you have to have time to apply the fungicide,” Mr. Wilkins said.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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