Alabama Extension Agent Highlights Current Weather Challenges Impacting Producers

Clint ThompsonAlabama

By Clint Thompson

Weather conditions over the past month have challenged Alabama fruit and vegetable farmers. Excessive rain delayed growers from being able to get in the fields. Neil Kelly, Alabama regional Extension agent in Southeast Alabama, highlighted that challenge his producers have faced in recent weeks.

Neil Kelly

“The biggest thing is just getting fields ready; getting ready to plant. We’ve had some issues where people would get plastic laid and then we would get a big one to two-inch type of rain in an hour. Two inches may not sound like a lot but when two inches comes down in 45 minutes, it creates erosion issues in the field,” Kelly said. “We’ve had a little trouble getting plastic laid. We’re a little behind as far as that goes, but at the same time we need the moisture to get fields ready. I would say with the fruit and vegetable stuff, it hasn’t been a huge hindrance.”

Kelly said his growers will be planting into the middle of April after starting at the beginning of March.

Another weather factor was the most recent cold event. Plants avoided potential catastrophic results as temperatures dropped into the 30s.

“I think we dodged a bullet on that cold weather we had (two weeks ago). They were predicting 34 (degrees Fahrenheit), potential frost, but I think we had a small frost in certain places,” Kelly said. “I think most of my growers dodged a bullet.

“We’ve got tomatoes in the ground, watermelons in the ground, all of our seasonal stuff that people are starting to plant. On the other hand, strawberries are looking pretty good if they’ll hold up, clear skies.”