MYRTLE BEACH — Excessive rain has been damaging crops in Horry County and preventing some from being fully harvested, but the area can look for a drying trend this week.
The county already has had 72.03 percent of its annual rainfall, said William Hardee, area agent for Horry and Marion counties with the Clemson University Cooperative Extension. Annual average rainfall is 52.07 inches, but 37.51 inches have fallen this year as of Aug. 11, as measured at Grand Strand Airport in North Myrtle Beach.
“Every crop’s got a breaking point,” Hardee said. “It’s one of those things where some can handle [the rain] better than others.”
There should be a bit of relief this week, as the area is expected to dry out some, said Michael Colby, forecaster for the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C. More typical weather -- not rain all day -- will be returning with some isolated showers in the late morning or early afternoon that could push inland with the sea breeze, he said.
Crop damage exceeds 30 percent in 36 of South Carolina's 42 counties, including Horry County, officials said.
On Monday, Gov. Nikki Haley said she has written U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting that the state be declared an agricultural disaster area. If approved, qualifying farmers would be able to secure low-interest loans.
Horry County’s tobacco crop has been hit hardest by all the rain, which damages the root system to where it cannot properly take in fertilizer, Hardee said. Leaves begin to fall off the plant, which also can harbor more diseases and bacteria that cause even more destruction to the crop, he said.
On the flip side, the area has had one of the best crops of wheat that anyone can remember, but rain kept farmers from harvesting all of it, Hardee said. A lot had to be left in the fields because farmers could not get to it, and when they did, it already had sprouted, he said. There also have been delays in planting other crops, such as soybeans and cotton.
“Peanuts are doing pretty good, but we need some good hot sunny weather for them,” Hardee said, “or it could get bad for them, too.”
Contact VICKI GROOMS at 443-2401 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_VickiGrooms.