Farmers busy as planting continues, spring harvest comes in


As we enter the last 10 days of April, local farmers will soon be planting cotton and peanuts, said Clemson Extension Agent David Witt.

"All the corn planting is wrapping up," he said. "There are a few people with a little bit to finish."

The recent showers were probably needed, DeWitt said, and because much of the corn has sprouted, a little moisture helps.

"Corn is one of those crops, when the conditions are right and you get good moisture and warm nights you can drive by the field and you can hear it growing," he said.

At Willard Farms near Gable, Jay Willard said Wednesday his farm is picking strawberries and getting ready to start picking broccoli and cabbage.

"We are picking kale as we speak," he said.

He said he has around 15 different vegetable crops planted.

"Some we have planted and there are second plantings and third plantings, so we will have stuff throughout the spring and summer," he said.

He said the strawberry crop has been very good, and he expects the harvest to last another month, though sometimes the harvest last into early June.

"If it gets really hot, we sometimes finish up in the middle of May," he said.

The late spring freeze only cost him a few strawberry blooms, he said.

Willard said he expects to have everything planted soon.

"We'll have five different tomatoes; a couple of heirlooms and a couple of slicing tomatoes; jalapeno peppers, green peppers, cantaloupe and watermelons."

DeWitt said most people will be putting the cotton out next week and some have already started.

Peanut planting will get started the first part of next week or first part of May, he said.

It is critical to get a good start on a crop, DeWitt said.

"If you don't get the seed out of the ground properly, you are kind of behind the eight ball all year," he said.

Most crops came through the cold snap in late March just fine, he said, and farmers are optimistic about the prospects for peanuts and cotton.

"Peanuts ended up having a good price and some good contracts, so I think there is some optimism with peanuts going into this year," he said. "Cotton has had a little bit of a rebound in price this year."

DeWitt said many fields that appear to be fallow will be planted in cotton or soybeans. Those fields will be sprayed with chemicals to kill weeds before a crop is planted.

"There is no tilling going on, no disking," he said, "they just leave the land like it was at the end of harvest last year and then they come in right before they plant and kill the weeds.

Soybean planting takes place at the end of May or into June, he said.

One reason there appears to be a lot of fallow land is that there hasn't been much wheat planted, DeWitt said.

"A lot of that land that you see left out might have had wheat planted in previous years and was going to be double cropped with soy beans," he said. "But it sat idle this winter because wheat prices just weren't real profitable looking."