Recent rains causing havoc to Berkeley County crops - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Recent rains causing havoc to Berkeley County crops

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We've seen an incredible amount of rain recently. Plants need water to survive, but too much water can kill the plants. We spoke with one Berkeley County farmer who knows that all too well.

76 year old Theodore Simmons started out planting a small garden, but over the years it has grown to include several acres of vegetables, "I start(ed) planting a little patch of okra and beans and stuff like that for the family and community."

Now he is growing watermelon, cucumbers, cantaloupes and okra, "Last year I got rained out. Rain damaged. This year I elevated the crop on a bed, so I could keep water in the alley."

Unfortunately, with all the recent rain, especially with the okra crop,  that didn't work, "then when it rained 5-6 days consecutively, then I couldn't get in the field, then the grass overtake me."

He said most of the few plants that survived were recently eaten by a bunch of hungry deer.

Mark Arena, a horticulturalist with Clemson Extension says Simmons and his crops are not alone, "In a totally saturated situation, it's like me taking you in a pool and pushing your head below water. How long will you last in that condition? After awhile, you start to stress."

Arena says this impacts the local foods you eat. One example is the cantaloupe crop, "we've seen a reduced size in the cantaloupe, we've also seen reduced sweetness in the cantaloupe, and third, the quantity of cantaloupes available in the market."

Simmons says this year's crop is just a bust, "I know there is no way to recover this year. Hey, it's just a thing."

In the meantime, he plans on turning a problem into an opportunity, "I'm in the process now of putting up a deer stand to put (them) in the freezer and make deer sausage."

Arena says the Lowcountry needs at least two weeks of no rain to get back to the correct level of water in the soil.

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