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A man holding a large wooden measuring stick stands in front of a wall with several framed photos.
Pete Hunter, consultant, Stovall Farms

Assessing and Adjusting

Extension helps document ag damage from June flooding

Story by Leah Barbour • Photos by Kevin Hudson

In one day, bad weather can change the potential of a farm’s crop. Bad weather for a whole week can kill all the potential.

Heavy rainfall during the second week of June 2021, primarily north of U.S. Highway 82 in Mississippi, waterlogged crops during critical growth stages. Flooding caused complete or partial losses in many fields, including 400 acres of row crops at Stovall Farms in Coahoma County.

Extension crop specialists are a key factor in helping us adjust and overcome weather damage.

— Pete Hunter, consultant at Stovall Farms in Coahoma County

“There were people not too far away who got 15 to 20 inches of rain. I feel like I was blessed compared to them,” admits Pete Hunter, who serves as a consultant at Stovall Farms after retiring from active farming. “I have flown south of where we are and saw farms that lost 1,000 to 2,000 acres of crops. We do not have that.”

Pete yielded full-time operations to Mississippi Delta farmers John McKee and Mark and Bo Crumpton in 2016, but he remains involved in many facets of the business.

“I am not a licensed consultant, but I have the credentials to advise them on this farm, and they came from working on the land for 45 years,” Pete says.

In the flood’s aftermath, many producers requested damage assessments through the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. Teams of Mississippi State University Extension Service agents conduct these evaluations in concert with MEMA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency to record and determine the extent of all disaster-related damage to crops, livestock, and agricultural equipment and structures. This documentation can help farmers recover funds already spent on damaged crops.

“It is common for producers to contact Extension when requesting damage assessments when their farms are compromised by severe weather,” says Anne Howard Hilbun-Benoit, an instructor with the MSU Extension Center for Government and Community Development. “This is because of the trust MSU Extension agents and specialists built with the state’s farmers during their many years of service to them.”

The recent flooding is one of many weather-related disasters Hunter has seen on the Clarksdale farm. Each time, he has sought out Extension resources to not only conduct assessments but also provide general management advice after crop losses.

“In the past, I’ve had county Extension agents come to do assessments to find out what my best economical avenue was going forward,” he says. “This time around, it was more about getting expert advice from Extension’s row-crop specialists on what my options were, such as whether it was too late to replant cotton on some of the lost acreage. Extension crop specialists are a key factor in helping us adjust and overcome weather damage.”

Click here to see how Extension responded regionally to the 2021 spring floods.

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