April 2014 Storm Damage Report for Okaloosa County
April 2014 had already brought a record amount of rainfall to the Western Panhandle area, and last week’s weather brought North Okaloosa County another 7-19 inches of rain. The rain event of April 29-30 caused flooding across our county and right now the biggest damages to farmers are erosion, standing water on fields, and nutrient leaching.
The soil and air temperatures have also been abnormally low causing delays in planting. Because soil temperatures have been low, and rainfall totals have been high, farmers have been forced to delay planting cotton and peanuts. After this week, farmers are even further behind due to soil erosion and standing water in fields. Some farmers had planted corn already. Most of the corn planted will likely be a loss due to field erosion and/or standing water. Sweet corn fields were also lost due to erosion.
Winter wheat still looks good with less lodging than expected. If the fields drain water quickly, we may escape significant losses to the wheat yield.
Vegetable and fruit producers suffered some damages too. Strawberries, which were already stressed by wet conditions, will be further affected. Fungal diseases were already present in the fields and will likely spread. Some farmers had to replant young watermelon plants due to flooding of fields under the plastic.
Cattle weathered the storm well. Some flooding in pastures has occurred, but cattle still have fairly dry ground to forage on. Producers are worried about cutting winter forages for hay, and at this point, conditions do not seem favorable in the near future to harvest these forages.
Next week, we should be able to better evaluate damages due to oxygen depletion caused by saturated soils, and diseases due to continuously wet conditions.