Growing conditions in Rowan about average so far

Published 12:05 am Sunday, May 15, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

SALISBURY — After a brutal drought in 2015, Rowan County’s growing conditions aren’t awful or spectacular. They’re just OK.

At various points in 2016, Rowan has seen severe storms that dropped multiple inches of rain in just hours. Depending on where farmers are located in Rowan County, the severe storms have either been helpful or problematic. Similarly, some farms are off to a good start, and others are suffering from damage that followed a severe storm.

For a significant period at the start of 2016, Rowan and the Piedmont saw little to no rain, and the drought monitor classified much of the state as abnormally dry. There’s still swaths of North Carolina experiencing drought and abnormally dry conditions, but the drought monitor shows most dry spots as being west of the Catawba River.

In western Rowan, conditions aren’t optimal but it could be worse, said farmer Johnny Moore. Recent rains have made up for earlier dry spells, Moore said.

“We’re back in business. That’s what I’ve been telling people,” Moore said.

At the Piedmont Research Station on Sherrill’s Ford Road, near West Rowan High, Superintendent Joe Hampton said 2016 has been relatively average so far.

“Last year was a horrific year, at least at the Piedmont Research Station,” Hampton said. “We’re thankful any time it rains … While we would like to have had rain spread out a little bit more than it’s been, things are off to an average start.”

Even in an individual county, however, conditions can vary significantly. In east Rowan, for example, conditions are a bit worse than the west, said extension agent Danélle Cutting.

“Some crops have kind of been drowned by the rain and some have seen hail damage,” Cutting said. “The western side of the county has received less rain than the east. The eastern part of the county has gotten hit really bad by some of the storms.”

Local peach growers, she said, were “wiped out” by a late frost.

For other crops, yield may ultimately relay on the farm’s location.

“We live in little microclimates with their own conditions,” said Cauble Creek Vineyard Owner William Yost.

Yost said this year’s weather hasn’t had a significant, adverse effect on Cauble Creek.

With a few months left in the growing season, there’s perhaps only one certainly for 2016: it’s till too early to tell how the year will turn out, especially for Rowan County’s row crop farmers. Some local growers, for example, are still planting corn, Cutting said.

“We’re still really young in the growing phase, which means anything can happen,” she said.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.