Johnston County Crop Damage Assessment

Agricultural officials say it will take several more days to determine the full extent of crop damage in Johnston County caused by heavy winds and rain from Hurricane Dorian.  On Friday, Bryant Spivey, Director of the Johnston County Cooperative Extension Service, said an initial assessment revealed “…our agricultural damage will be much lighter than in the past with Matthew or Florence.  It will take a few days for this to unfold entirely.”

The main crops in local fields are tobacco, cotton, soybeans and sweet potatoes.

A Johnston County tobacco field on September 6, 2019 following Hurricane Dorian.

Spivey said tobacco farmers have reported some damage due to leaves blown off and damage to remaining leaves.  The bruising in the wind will cause plants to release ethylene which will hasten ripening. Bryant said hopefully the ripening will not be so fast that tobacco deteriorates faster than it can be harvested.

Minimal damage was reported to cotton and soybean fields.  Minor damage was also reported by corn growers.

Sweet potatoes are likely to have minimal damage in west areas in fields, but it is important that good weather returns to allow fields to dry out, keeping the damage to a minimum.

Hemp plants are approaching the harvesting phase.  Spivey said it is a minor crop but expensive and potentially very valuable.  “It does not handle wind well at all and we do have some damage.”   There are about 75 acres of hemp planted in the county.

There are no initial reports of power outages or damage to tobacco barns.  Initial assessments of greenhouses and nurseries have indicated very limited damage.

As of Friday, no livestock feed or water problems have been discovered.

Officials caution this is an initial assessment of damage. A full assessment will take several days to complete.