Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
Salisbury Post
Slightly more than an inch of rain that fell Saturday and Sunday could mean millions of dollars to farmers and the agricultural economy.
Rainfall measurements varied between 1.2 inches along Webb Road and 1.45 inches in downtown Salisbury at Fire Station 1.
And the possibility of additional showers today, combined with nearly 90-degree temperatures, will push plants into high gear.
“Old-timers would say you could hear the corn growing after a good rain,” said Kevin Fisher, a farmer and field sales representative with Southern States. “After the rain, listen, you can hear the corn growing this week. It will really jump.”
Fisher, a Rockwell resident, checked his rain gauge early Sunday morning. It showed one inch.
He looked around and saw no puddles. He thought his wife had watered the rain gauge while watering flowers Saturday evening.
But when he got to church, everybody was talking about an inch of rain.
“This will really go a long way. Corn had really gotten in desperate shape,” Fisher said. The only thing better, he added, would have been if the rain had come a couple weeks earlier.
Across the county and region, farmers had stopped planting soybeans and late corn. Many were holding off on doing over-the-top spraying for weeds.
“You can’t kill the weeds when it’s so dry. Now everybody will be trying to catch up on what they should have done the last three weeks,” Fisher said.
“This rain will be worth several million dollars to the county, it’s really turned things around,’ said Fisher, a former Rowan Agricultural Extension agent.
And another plus he’s counting on is farmers with a better outlook.”
“It’ hasn’t been pleasant on the farm. No one has been in a good mood,” he said. “And they certainly didn’t want to see a salesman.”
While the rainfall is a huge boost for corn and some other grains, it’s too late to help with the hay crop.
Across the county, hay producers report yields cut by 30 to 50 percent.
“It’s been the driest I can remember in a long time,” Darrell Nicholas said. Nicholas and his father, Bill, produce fescue, orchard grass and alfalfa hay on 276 acres on their farm off Webb Road.
Nicholas said their first cutting was down 40 percent. And that’s a major blow, since the first cutting usually produces 75 percent of the farm’s income.
Even a bit late, the rainfall is still welcome.
“We were looking at a lot of stand failures, orchard grass and alfalfa,” Nicholas said.
Hay fields and pastures will turn green and produce some growth.
Some cattlemen in Rowan and Iredell were just about ready to start feeding hay because of the dried-up pastures, said Fisher who works in both counties.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or