Hurricane Damages NC Tobacco CropClore Law ·
Hurricane Irene Destroys Tobacco CropAgronomists are supporting the farmers reports of total crop loss. "Most of the counties I cover, pretty much any tobacco still in the field is going to be close to a 100 percent loss," said Dianne Farrer, a regional agronomist for the state who works in more than a dozen eastern counties, including some of the state's biggest tobacco producers. "I've talked to several growers, and they're just disheartened," she said. "If it's leaned over or knocked over, they can't harvest mechanically, and if they don't get in and harvest what's left by hand, by the end of the week it will be lost." Farmers can get federally backed crop insurance, and many are covered for losses of 70 percent or 75 percent of their harvest last year, Boyd said. Most, though, expected a bigger crop at better prices this year, so the gap between real losses and the insurance payments could be huge. It's only designed as a safety net to help farmers pay the bills they piled up planting a year's crops, not cover their expected profits, he said. Farm crews usually make about four harvest-time passes through tobacco fields. First, they take the lowest leaves, which ripen first, then work their way up as the leaves turn gold, taking a few leaves with each round. The later rounds are the most valuable.
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