Scott County ag officials look into storms' effect on local crops

Thursday, September 18, 2008

SIKESTON, Mo. -- As residents on Monday picked up the pieces left by the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, agriculture officials were left wondering what effect Sunday's strong winds had on the local crops.

Anthony Ohmes, agronomy specialist for the Mississippi County University of Missouri Extension, said damage varied throughout the county. Parts of fields were hit real hard and others didn't look like much had happened, he said of the county's crops.

"It would be safe to say the majority of the cornfields left for shelling -- prior to the wind -- were affected by the wind. We still have a lot of corn sitting in the field. A very small percentage has been harvested," Ohmes said, adding the same can be said for corn in the neighboring counties.

Although he hasn't seen much of the milo crop in the county, Ohmes said he suspects it's OK. Soybeans still have a way to go before they reach their full potential and could use more water, he said.

Jeff House, agronomy specialist for the New Madrid County University of Missouri Extension in New Madrid County, said like the corn, damage to the cotton also depends on the location of the field.

"Ike remnants blew cotton out of the bolls in some. To what the degree of damage is, I don't know. The worse thing (for cotton) that could happen now is to get a big rain. I think we're lucky that not a whole lot of cotton had been defoliated," House said.

Walnut and pecan trees also suffered from Sunday's winds.

House said he spent much of Monday assessing his pecan grove. He estimated he's got 700 pounds of pecans on the ground.

Unfortunately, House doesn't think they've matured yet, he said, adding October or November is usually the best time to pick up pecans.

"It didn't hurt my trees bad, but I've got 20 or so 50-year-old trees that were loaded with pecans," House said. "Now you can't walk across the ground without stepping on a pecan. It feels like I'm walking on marbles."

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