Wheat Farmers Hit Hard by Heavy Rain
Pittsylvania Co., VA - The rain does a good job of cooling things off, but it's been a major problem this year for wheat farmers.In his past 15 years of growing wheat, Clarence Emerson has never seen a season this bad.
"We just had too much rain this year," Emerson said.
Of the 150 acres Emerson planted, 60 of them sprouted. Once wheat starts to sprout, it loses its germ properties, making it worthless to the companies that purchase it to make flour and other products.
"You talking about a pretty good chunk of change as far as financial loss, and I don't know if the crop insurance is going to help me out or not," Emerson said.
Extension agent Stephen Barts says most of the crops began to sprout or develop fungus because the rain prevented farmers from harvesting it on time, and many ran the chance of getting their equipment stuck.
"A combine is not made to run on mud and that's what a lot of growers were seeing," said Barts.
Pittsylvania County is not a major production area for wheat, the area is mostly a supplement for farmers who grow tobacco. With 8,000 acres dedicated to wheat, however, Barts says a rainy season like this can still be a huge blow.
"We don't think about it as one of a really high value crop, but it's certainly becoming a larger and larger portion of our agri-nomic crops in the county," Barts said.
Now, with this season being a bust, farmers like Emerson have one wish for next year:
"A perfect season, weather-wise anyway. that's what I'm hoping for," said Emerson.
In some cases, wheat that has sprouted can still be used as feed for animals, but Emerson says he's had no luck with that, either.
Emerson says he's now in the process of filing an insurance claim for his loss.