How Mississippi farmers adjust when too much rain stops them from planting crops

MAYHEW, Miss. (WCBI) – An especially stormy spring in 2022 is making things difficult for farmers across Mississippi.

Melvin Ellis, owner and operator of Mayhew Tomato Farm, says his fields were just starting to get dry before the most recent round of rain in the Golden Triangle.

“I would be planting peas now if the ground was dry enough,” he says.

Ellis says he is about seven to 10 days behind schedule for planting peas after the rain left more mud and standing water out in his fields. He says he’s had to contend with the weather several times during the past few months.

“March was a wet cloudy month and it affected my strawberry crop,” he says. “They need eight to 10 hours of sunshine a day and we were getting eight to 10 hours of sunshine a week.”

Ellis says that too much rain prevents farmers from taking their equipment out into their fields to do things like plant seeds or spray for bugs.

“Seeds won’t fall out consistently in those furrows that you’re making (in the ground),” Ellis says. “Most of this equipment, you can’t run it through ground where there is standing water. It just doesn’t work.”

When it comes to growing peas, Ellis says he likes to plant about an acre of land at a time.

“If I don’t get peas in the ground, enough peas in the ground, by mid-July, then it’s too late to plant any more,” he says. “They just don’t have enough time to reach maturity.”

After 25 years of farming, Ellis says that a farmer’s plans have to change as fast as the weather if they want to keep their shelves stocked with fresh fruit, vegetables or any crops.

“If the rain’s coming in, and they’ve got 40 acres to plant and they were only going to plant 20 that day, but it’s going to rain tomorrow, they’ll plant 40,” Ellis says. “If they have to turn the lights on and plant till midnight.”

Despite the rain, Mayhew Tomato Farm says it will have tomatoes, onions, potatoes, and peaches on its shelves Saturday.

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