Driving through downpours and wading in puddles can ruin your day. But the recent rain pelting portions of South Carolina is a mixed blessing for farmers.

The wet weather is a boon to corn crops and makes for happy cows in green pastures, but it also hampers wheat, oats and watermelon harvests, agriculture and weather officials said.

The rainstorms over the past week or so present varied issues for crops, forests and the animals in a state that has suffered years of punishing drought, officials said this week.

“All in all, I’d rather it be too wet than too dry,” said Barnwell County farmer Jeff Sandifer. “It presents more of a challenge. We’ve gotten 6 to 8 inches of rain since Saturday.”

Sandifer said Wednesday that the rain has come at a perfect time for his 200 acres of corn, which need the rain in the final weeks prior to harvesting. He farms about 1,000 acres with a variety of crops, he said.

Cotton, his main crop, is “doing OK” under the conditions, but the moisture makes it difficult to apply pesticides to fend off disease, he said.

“If you can’t get into the fields to control the weeds, that presents another challenge,” he said.

The rain also makes harvesting watermelons difficult, coming during peak season, he said.

Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Aaron Wood said farmers have told him that “corn is the best this year and the rain is coming at just the right time” to produce strong yields.

If farmers have been able to harvest their small grains such as wheat, oats and rye, their crop reports have been favorable, Wood added.

“But since it’s been wet the last few days, those that weren’t taken in probably will have to be left in the field” and plowed under, he said. “And for forestry, the rain has been very good for the trees.”

Trees that are well-watered are more able to be pest resistant, Wood said.

In all, he said, the wet weather “has been great for corn. Wheat has been a struggle, and if you have your cotton and beans planted, that’s good.”

Wood said farmers with animals to care for report that “their pastures look good and the cows are happy.”

Farmers tell him the rain has posed some problems, “but overall, they are grateful for the rain because eight out of the last 10 years have been drought years,” Wood said.

State climatologist Hope Mizzell said it may seem that areas in the state are setting rainfall records, but in actuality, no records were broken over the past month.

“It rained somewhere in the state every day in June,” Mizzell said, but amounts have varied.

For example, June was the sixth wettest for Charleston since 1938, but in the Midlands near Newberry, the region is a half-inch below normal for this time of year, she said.

So while it may seem to be a very wet season, Mizzell said, “We have to remember we have been experiencing drought for so long.”

Steady rainfall over the winter pulled South Carolina out of drought status for the first time in more than three years.

From 1998 to 2013, “more months were considered drought months than not,” she added.

The weather also is affecting crops elsewhere in the South.

North Carolina

Officials said any more heavy rain could cause crop damage in North Carolina. The state already has suffered from unusually cool and wet conditions, The Charlotte Observer reported.

Farmers have been forced to delay planting. Experts said growing and harvesting will be at least three weeks later than normal.

John Mueller with Clemson University’s Edisto Research and Education Center said heavy rain that predicted for most of the week would only make matters worse.

“If it rains as much as they predict in the next few days, we’ll start at 10 percent yield losses and then move up,” Mueller said. “You can’t fight Mother Nature. If it’s going to rain 2 or 3 inches, there’s nothing we can do to stop it. There’s no way we can work around it. We just have to do the best we can.”

The National Weather Service reported more than 7 inches of rain fell in the Charlotte area last month. That’s more than twice the normal rainfall.

The N.C. Department of Agriculture said last week that 43 percent of the land in the Piedmont was wetter than ideal.


South Georgia farmers also are struggling to maintain their crops after an unusually wet June. WALB-TV reported Monday that heavy storms brought more than 10 inches of rain in some areas. More rain was expected this week. Some farmers are having trouble planting, spraying and cultivating. Others are facing issues with the quality of their produce and have needed to replant.

Farmers say extra labor in the fields has made the season more expensive, but the extra costs should not affect consumers.

Peanuts, watermelons and cantaloupes are among several crops threatened by heavy rain.