July’s record rainfall damages major cash crops

Millions of dollars won’t be going into your community this year because of record rainfall in July that destroyed tobacco crops. A state climatologist recorded the most rain in 11 counties, including a few in our area.

Crittenden County had almost 15.87 inches of rain. Marshall County received 16.25 inches of rain, while Calloway County had more than 17 inches of rain.

Scott Lowe puts hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into each acre of his tobacco crop.

"It’s sickening to come out here and drive through your patch and look at something likes this," Lowe says.

Lowe says before July Fourth, he had the perfect crop, and then record rain hit Calloway County. Lowe says now he won’t be able to harvest about half the plants on his farm.

"You’ve got a home and family that you’re trying to raise. You’re trying to put food on the table," Lowe says.

Lowe’s not the only farmer affected.

"Tobacco is a crop that just can’t handle that much water," says Calloway County Adult Agriculture Teacher Tim Lax.

Lax teaches farmers in the county how to grow and take care of their crops. He says wind and rain damage in July was widespread.

"Besides environmental factors, there’s diseases running rampant," Lax says. 

With damage to a major cash crop, Lowe says workers won’t be earning as much, so they won’t be able to spend as much money in the community.

"I feel like the community and families are going to be drastically impacted," Lowe says. 

Many farmers in the area have crop insurance to make up for some of the losses. Lowe is still waiting to find out how much he’ll get. Lax and Lowe each say it’s too soon to estimate the economic loss.
The state climatologist who collected the rainfall totals says while tobacco crops suffered, the wet weather benefited corn, soybeans and pastures. 

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