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Wet, spring weather leaves farmers at a stand still

Wet, spring weather leaves farmers at a stand still
The season of spring normally brings to mind images of new beginnings, rebirth and the planting of a new year’s worth of crops for local farmers.
Unfortunately, springtime, as a whole, brings uncertainties in temperatures and rain totals – cases that serve as obstacles for farmers from year to year, but eventually smooth out as warmer weather moves in for good.
According to Weakley County Agriculture Extension Agent Jeff Lannom, local corn producers were able to plant “minor acreage” a couple of weeks ago, but thus far other growers have been hampered by constantly changing conditions.
“Some early corn was planted in March, but the weather really hasn’t been good. It’s been wet and cool, but with the recent warm-up, growers should still have a good stand,” Lannom remarked. “The majority of producers are waiting for warmer weather to set in.”
Remaining complimentary of the wheat crop, Lannom reported that the current stand is “really growing in height” and producers are in the process of applying nitrogen and an herbicide to rid the crop of weeds, namely wild garlic that lends the wheat an unwanted aroma of garlic.
“Producers are working on their equipment now and have been applying a good bit of nitrogen fertilizer and anhydrous ammonia to their fields in preparation for planting corn. When the farmers plant the corn, it will be ready to take up the nitrogen,” Lannom explained. “We’re really at a stalemate now because of the weather, though.”
Vegetable garden enthusiasts have been setting out potatoes, cabbage, lettuce, English peas and other “cool season” greens.
“It’s really too early for tomatoes,” Lannom warns. “The last killing frost is generally expected around April 10, so a window of April 10-15 would be safe to start planting.”
Just as Japanese beetles provided the biggest bulk of the damage to local garden plants last year, Lannom expects the persistent pests to show up in full form this year as well.
“The beetle problem originated in the northeast portion of the country and has gradually worked its way west and it’s just continuously moving west. Five years ago, Japanese beetles were pretty much unheard of and now they’re all over the place,” Lannom admitted.
With the much-talked-about appearance of 13-year cicadas expected in early May, Lannom admits that the periodical pests should not cause many problems in the Weakley County area.
“I’m not sure we’ll really be affected by this brood,” he remarked. “We’ll see a few, but they’ll mostly be concentrated in the middle Tennessee area around Nashville.”
Until then, just as it does every year, the weather will continue to dictate the rate at which local growers are able to plant crops in this season in which the only thing that can be predicted is unpredictability.

WCP 4.05.11

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