Southside Farmers Worry About Rain

Pittsylvania Co., VA -- Usually they're begging for rain but this time farmers are saying we've been getting too much at once. Tobacco farmers say they are getting behind on their planting because of all the recent downpours.

Tobacco farmers hope for their soil to be dry now while they cultivate the land. Then, once the plants are in the ground, that's when they say, bring on the rain.

Tim Shelton hoped by now he wouldn't be looking at his tobacco plants inside a greenhouse, rather, outside planted in his field. But because of all the recent rainfall, Shelton has started to get behind schedule to cultivate his land in order to plant his tobacco.

"It would be mid week at best before we could think about starting," said Shelton.

For now, it just adds stress, but if the rain continues, it could subtract from his bottom line.

"If we get behind on our transplanting then it lengthens our growing season and puts us closer to frost so we are at higher risk of losing crop at the end in October," said Shelton.

"It hurts their psyche than anything because they are not able to get out there and do the field work that they know they have to do before they can plant," said Stephen Barts, extension agent with Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Virginia Cooperative Extension Agent, Stephen Barts, explains the ideal planting date is April 25th. But tobacco farmers need a week without rain before they can get to that point.

"I would say they are behind," said Barts.

Barts says it's too early to panic.

"We're at the mercy of Mother Nature every day," said Shelton.

They all will just hope that the rain will go away, and soon.

Barts says if the fields dry out this weekend, they can make a lot of headway. But farmers say they expect to run into some problems every year.