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Armyworms march into Screven County

It’s hot then it rains; it’s scorching hot for a long period of time and no rain comes; it’s cooled off and rain comes every day. That seems to be the weather pattern for this year’s farmers, and it’s starting to take a toll on producers trying to pull peanuts or cotton for harvest.
Screven County Extension Coordinator Ray Hicks said the rainfall is creeping its way back to being about average compared to previous years, but the timing has been bad for some who planted at their normal time and good for those who planted a little bit later.
The yields will be on par with previous years, he said. Corn has done well and the grain elevator has filled up, causing producers to fill large “socks” of corn and leave them for later. The corn needs to stay dry and the only way to do that is encasing it in large white bags, visible from some roads, which will be moved at a later date.
The intermittent rain has also delayed some from harvest, as crops like peanuts and cotton need to dry out a good bit before they’re picked, Hicks said. Those who got a late start are enjoying the rainfall.
Rain hasn’t been the only problem for farmers, Hicks said. This year has been exceptionally bad with Armyworms. The worm in known for literally “marching” across a field, eating it completely before moving on to its next meal. Hicks said he has seen large clusters cross a road leaving behind a trail of slime.
“We’ve had some producers completely lose their grass fields,” he said. The worms are particularly bad with grass planted for grazing, and even spraying pesticide hasn’t stopped them completely.
Farm Bill changes
The Extension Office is beginning to roll out programs for understanding the latest changes in the Farm Bill and how it affects farmers of Screven County.
Farmers will have to decide which insurance policy they need, for instance, and keep it for five years. There are two different types of insurance and it will have to be a farm-to-farm decision by the farmers themselves on what to select.
Hicks said later in the year there will be courses on the changes.
“Farmers need to educate themselves and not be in a hurry to make decisions,” he said.