Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler toured much of Eastern North Carolina by air on Oct. 1 to assess crop damage in the wake of Tropical Storm Nicole.
Between Sept. 30 and Oct. 2 eastern North Carolina crops took a drubbing when torrential rains drenched fields in the state, before rising into Virginia and a number of other East Coast States.
There were reports that up to 10 people died in the storms, including at least five in North Carolina. In some places residents said they saw as much rain as they experienced in Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reported that a number of crops hit by the storm were at danger of lower yields, specifically sweetpotatoes, cotton, peanuts and soybeans. Many crop were standing under water.
In Washington County, Troxler noted, he visited a cotton field with a foot of water standing in it. It was too early to assess the damage in terms of adollar value, Troxler said, but he was concerned that the damage would be extensive.
"If sweetpotatoes and peanuts stay in the ground and wet too long, there could be significant yield reductions," he said. "If sweetpotatoes take on too much water, they will burst and won't be marketable for the fresh market."
Troxler flew over Johnston, Sampson, Duplin, Lenoir, Wayne, Pasquotank, Washington, Beaufort and Hyde counties before darkness set in. The silver lining, he noted, was that the hog lagoons he surveyed seemed to be standing up well to the rains.
"I think that is a testament to the meticulous lagoon management practiced by farmers," he said.
Troxler was encouraging farmers to document damage to their crops and on their farms.