(Posted Fri. Sep 2nd, 2011)

Field NotesSept. 2: Field Notes opened the farm gate this spring and provided followers with an inside look at the activities of several farmers from a variety of geographical areas. Today, this series visited with Maryland grower Chip Bowling to find out how Hurricane Irene impacted his Chesapeake Bay farm.


“Where I am faired pretty well compared to many of my neighbors,” said Bowling. “We had wind gusts up with speeds up to 74 miles per hour starting Saturday morning at 11 o’clock and it didn’t stop until Sunday around noon. In those 24 hours, we had five and a half inches of rain, but some farmers who don’t live that far away had up to 14 and 20 inches of rain.”


Bowling noted that, due to this summer’s weather, the rain did not negatively impact his crop.


“We were so dry that the five and a half inches we got has basically soaked into the ground,” said Bowling. “There is no standing water in our fields, and we were back harvesting corn by Tuesday afternoon. We had already been harvesting last Friday night trying to beat the storm. We were dumping trucks on Saturday morning as the tropical storm hit us and the rain began.”


He went on to explain that, while he is having to change his normal harvest procedures due to wind damage, he is grateful that the crop seems to be in nearly as good of a condition as before Irene.


“Our yield is going to be diminished because we had a hot, dry summer, and we were really worried about the stalk strength,” said Bowling. “The storm did lay about 20 percent of my crop over, not breaking it but laying over the entire stalk, including the root ball.”


By altering how he harvests the corn, Bowling is salvaging the majority of that 20 percent.


“I have the corn head on my combine running almost on the ground with the tips basically sliding across the dirt to pick up that corn,” he explained. “If I had to guess, I am leaving five to ten percent in the field, and I am really happy with that.”


To listen to the full interview, click here.