Eastern N.C. farmers may be facing major losses due to Matthew

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – For farmers in the east, it was a race against time to harvest what they could before Matthew hit.

Despite their best efforts, crop losses could be significant.

Hurricane Matthew is long gone, but area farmers are still feeling the effects from the storm. For crops like cotton, it’s making this year’s harvest a difficult one.

Heavy rain, wind and record flooding from Matthew were a final blow for cotton in the east.

Those effects followed a wet spring, extreme summer heat and flooding rains from Tropical Storm Hermine.

Now that it’s finally time for the harvest, farmers are coming to grips with the fact that losses could be significant.

“You’ll start to see some hardlock in cotton where the harvester is not going to be able to pick that,” said Lance Grimes, Martin/Pitt County Cooperative agent. “It’s going to just string it out. This cotton here would also rate bad, grade worse than say cotton that may just open now or is more fluffy.”

The good news — if there is any — is that the weather has been sunny and dry since Matthew. That has allowed some cotton bolls to open that are salvageable. Crops like peanuts and soybeans that couldn’t be harvested before Matthew could also see significant losses.

Grimes said it’s still too soon to put a dollar amount on just how much crop damage has been done across eastern North Carolina. However, he is expecting yield loss for crops like cotton to be on the high side.

Winter crops like wheat will be planted in the coming weeks and will not be impacted by Matthew.

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