Weather in the Carolinas has been kind to some crops and locations and not so much to others, say grower-shippers around the two states.
While a late-winter cold wave froze out much of the region’s peach and blueberry crops, early spring rainfall drenched some fields and nourished others.
In some cases, rainfall was a mixed blessing.
“We were off to a good start, with good weather and timely rain. However, the rains of April 23-24 definitely put us behind,” said Kim Kornegay-LeQuire, vice president of Princeton, N.C.-based Kornegay Family Produce, a subsidiary of Kornegay Family Farms.
“Although the rain has definitely got us behind, we still think we can catch up, provided the weather is not too extreme one way or the other,” Kornegay-LeQuire said. “We always try to be positive and optimistic at the beginning of every season.”
Actually, other weather issues have transcended rainfall, said Kevin Hardison, vegetable marketing specialist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
“We’ve had a little weather issues — drought, rain, freezing rain, sleet, snow, cold,” he said. “We’ve had strange weather this year and for the most part it hasn’t affected all the vegetables that are out there — the summer and fall crops. However, it did hurt strawberries and blueberries a little bit.”
Growers expect a decent year overall, Hardison said.
“We have a lot of peppers, squash, cucumbers,” he said.
North Carolina also has a good supply of greens, including cabbage and collards, as well as eggplant, okra, tomatoes, onions, kale and lettuce, Hardison said.
“Lettuce was not hurt (by adverse weather), so we’re expecting a pretty good lettuce crop,” he said.
Chris Rawl, president of Clayton Rawl Farms Inc. in Lexington, S.C., said a hail event followed a mid-March freeze.
The hail inflicted some damage, said Rawl, whose company supplies greens and some vegetables year-round.
“It wasn’t a 100% wipeout, but some fields were (damaged),” he said. “It’s been a tough spring trying to get started here.”
Weather issues forced delays on all types of summer vegetables, such as squash and sweet corn, Rawl said.
“The greens came through the freeze OK,” he said.
For Ridge Spring, S.C.-based Titan Farms LLC, rainfall was timely and welcome, said Chalmers Carr, owner and CEO.
“We haven’t gotten too much rain. We were a tad bit on the dry side,” he said.
A tornado blew through the production region in late April, but that storm left no damage, Carr said.
Bell peppers appear to be on schedule to run from about June 6-10 to the end of July, he said.
Rain also has benefited potatoes, said Jeff Jennings, president of Camden, N.C.-based John E. Ferebee Farming.
“We needed water,” he said.
Hunter Gibbs, partner at Swan Quarter, N.C.-based potato grower-shipper Pamlico Shores Produce, said his crop also was on schedule.
“We’ve had the right amount of rain to make everything look really nice,” he said.
John Bulman, owner of cabbage grower-shipper Small Bulman Farms, Elizabeth City, N.C., said he had seen a lot of rain, but not an intolerable amount.
“I think we’re going to have a good crop this time,” he said.
Melons look to be a bit delayed, said Matt Solana, vice president of operations/supply chain with Autryville, N.C.-based Jackson Farming Co. and president of the Eastern Cantaloupe Grower Association.
“Had to hold plants in the greenhouse almost a month later than normal with the March freezes before we could start transplanting,” he said, noting that the crop is now set to come off at the end of May or the beginning of June.
The March freeze had little or no effect on the crops at Faison, N.C.-based Farm Fresh Produce Inc., which has greens, peppers, squash and sweet potatoes, said Bethany Malcolm, vice president.
The company started harvesting Napa cabbage in early May, she said.
“The recent heavy rains may cause us to be more vigilant in watching for disease or bug issues, but we are prepared for issues like that,” she said.
Rainy weather had complicated sweet potato planting, said Jeff Thomas, marketing director at Lucama, N.C.-based Scott Farms, which grows 2,800 acres of sweet potatoes for domestic and export customers.
“It’s still a little early, as far as the rain we’ve had the last few weeks, but we’re in the process of planting and assessing now,” Thomas said. “I don’t anticipate too many problems.”