This time a year ago we were surveying damage from a flood. Now we have the threat of a hurricane bearing down on us. We are predicted to get several inches of rain Friday and Saturday. The Weather Underground App that I use is calling for 8 inches in Florence and 14 in Conway. Currently tracking models aren’t predicting SC to take a direct hit, but Matthew will come close enough to cause some potential damage.
For anyone growing produce, remember that any if any fields flood, that produce can not be harvested. This is a huge food safety risk. Therefore, harvest everything that is ready and you have room for in your coolers before the storm comes. For strawberry growers, wait to punch holes in your plastic until after the storm.
For peanut growers, here are a few comments from Clemson Peanut Specialist Dan Anco: “When thinking if we should dig or not before the storm, we can consider a couple points. One of the big factors will be how mature our peanuts are now, and how spread out or tight that maturity profile is. If peanuts are ready to dig now for optimal or close to optimal maturity, it may be better to dig them before the storm if possible. The longer mature pods stay in the ground, the greater their risk of becoming over mature and then falling off. Even with this in mind, if the ground is really dry and hard now, that doesn’t make digging the easiest thing in the world right now. Peanuts can still be at risk of falling off on top of the ground if they sit there too long, but the increased risk of mature and ready peanuts staying in the ground during the storm in part comes from the delay of being able to get into the field and the soil being too moist for digging depending on how much rain we get. In other words, if the peanuts are ready now, waiting until after the storm to dig will add to the total time we need to wait until we can combine them and get them out of the field. Waiting until after the storm to dig peanuts may be a better option for peanuts that can use or tolerate the extra maturity time, but going along with this is how as we move deeper into October and November, the days get a bit shorter and temperatures a little cooler which slows things down. A lot of fields might be sitting somewhere in between the two, and for those situations the best choice may be a little more uncertain. Last year much of the later season losses came from extended rainy periods after peanuts were dug before they were combined (if they were combined at all). Based on the available information, it doesn’t look like this storm will bring a week worth of rain and overcast skies. Another factor to think about is how much leaf spot do we have now, and if we do not dig before the storm, will our peanuts still have enough leaves on afterwards to hold on to the pods that are there? In those cases, waiting for improved maturity may not be worth it if too much defoliation leaves them in the ground.”
For cotton growers, with all the rain and wind that’s expected, we are probably going to see some lint knocked out of the bolls and some plants bent over. We could see some mature soybeans that have already shed their leaves and dried down blown over, also. With the rain predicted to start tonight (Thursday), we’re running out of time, so we may not be able to prepare much. Let’s hope Matthew stays at sea and we get lots of sunlight next week to dry us out.
Here are a few links that may be of interest as you prepare:
SC EMD evacuation plan: http://www.scemd.org/component/content/article/11-home-page/news/155-know-your-zone
Hurricane Information: https://www.wunderground.com/wundermap/?lat=21.5&lon=-74.9&hur=1&sat=1
Clemson Stand News Article: http://newsstand.clemson.edu/mediarelations/whether-evacuating-or-staying-put-animals-need-help-during-a-hurricane/