Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service – NC
COVE CITY, N.C. — North Carolina farmers are working to keep their crops healthy amid rising temperatures and more frequent extreme weather. Last year, some growers reported extreme heat and little rain caused them to lose nearly half of their corn crop.
Billy McLawhorn is an independent agricultural consultant who works with farmers in eastern North Carolina on soil and crop management. He said this growing season, farmers should be planning ahead.
“One thing that we’re trying to get growers to do is to examine the vulnerability to either floods or droughts or severe weather impacts,” McLawhorn said.
Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows heavy rainfall, hurricanes and storms are occurring more frequently in the southeastern U.S.
McLawthorn cited no-till farming, a practice where farmers leave the soil in its natural state rather than overturning it each season, as one way to mitigate losses from changing weather patterns.
“Growers need to be more and more resilient all the time; that’s the nature of their job to begin with, but spreading risk to whatever extent that they can,” he said.
He added that while warmer fall temperatures can be a boon for farmers growing crops such as soybeans, peanuts and sweet potatoes, it can have devastating impacts on other crops such as corn.
“We’re having warmer weather in the fall, which sometimes means crops mature that wouldn’t in a more normal season,” he said. “Sometimes it extends the growing season.”
North Carolina is home to more than 50,000 farms, which collectively bring in around $76 billion in annual income.