Md., Del. spared as Joaquin stays at sea

Associate Editor

(Oct. 13, 2015) Delmarva farmers mostly escaped the looming threat of damaging wind and rain from two storms earlier this month, including Hurricane Joaquin, which skirted the coast but never made landfall, agriculture industry officials said last week.
Regional farms saw most of their precipitation from a nor’easter that dropped roughly 4 inches of rain between Sept. 29 and Oct. 4.
Farmers were anticipating up to an additional foot from the Category 4 hurricane around the same time, and though it never made landfall, it helped fuel a historic deluge across the Southeast that lead to widespread and devastating flooding, primarily in South Carolina.
“It was very minimal to be honest,” said Jessica Flores, the University of Maryland’s agriculture faculty Extension assistant for the Lower Eastern Shore. “We were expecting a lot worse.”
Essentially, the rains delayed corn and soybean harvests, though many farmers needed water on their soybeans, Extension officials along the coast said.
The Ocean City, Md., area was said to have gotten the worst of storm-related issues as news footage from the city showed the ocean pouring into beachside parking lots and downtown streets.
Parts of Kent County, Del., received up to 6 inches of rain, said Phillip Sylvester, Extension agriculture agent for the county.
The wet weather likely also delayed planting of small grains, such as wheat and barley, though they’ll likely get planted in the next week or so, provided it stays dry.
“Honestly, we haven’t had too many calls,” Sylvester said. “Been kind of quiet.”
The rain knocked down some grain crops, which will require farmers to be more careful during harvest, Flores said.
“High winds blew down and lodged a good bit of what was standing corn,” said Harry Hudson, reporting in the Oct. 5 USDA crop progress report from Sussex County, Del. “Sussex has a good bit of unharvested corn still.
“Farmers were trying to cut corn in the rain last week. Some soybeans that were burnt up by the month long drought were cut.” 
More than half of Maryland’s corn for grain had been harvested as of the report’s publication. More than 80 percent of the harvest was listed as in “good” or “excellent” condition. In Delaware, more than 70 percent of the state’s corn was harvested, and 72 percent was listed as in “good” or “excellent” condition.
Several crop insurance companies said they received few calls about claims from customers.