For a farmer, torrential rain can be the source of several problems, including downed fences, flooded fields and washed-out service roads.
Parts of Frederick County received up to 6 inches of rain Monday, said Chuck Fry, president of the Maryland Farm Bureau and a local dairy farmer.
“It’s a challenge, but we’re dealing with it,” Fry said.
Fry said many local farmers are dealing with the same problems as the greater Frederick area — fallen trees, debris washing in and out with the water — but on a different level.
“We have the exact same thing,” Fry said. “It’s just spread out over farmland where we have to, you know, clean up with loaders and bulldozers and chain saws and get trees off fences and make sure everything is OK.”
In pastures, creeks known as water gaps are meant to adapt to water levels, but extensive rain can make the ground too soft.
Fry said soft ground can result in trees and fences falling and the possibility of cows escaping.
“[The] biggest concern we have is making sure those trees aren’t wild cherry trees,” Fry said.
When cherry tree leaves wilt, they can become poisonous to cows and, if consumed, result in death.
Fry also said his fields experienced flash flooding, but the water will go away more quickly.
“We certainly needed some rain. I’m not complaining at all,” he said.
Colby Ferguson, director of government relations at the Maryland Farm Bureau and a local farmer, also said the rain was a good thing.
“If this would have come after multiple weeks of a lot of rain already, it would be horrible,” he said. “For the most part, it’s been extremely hot and dry. ... On my farm we were desperately needing rain.”
Mehrl Mayne, a Buckeystown farmer who grows Christmas trees, pumpkins, strawberries, soybeans and other crops, said his property saw more than 6 inches of rain Monday.
But Mayne isn’t worried. He said his farm also needed the rain.
“I’m blessed to see the rain because we’ve been certainly dry on this end of the county,” he said.
That rain is especially important for corn, as he said those crops need roughly an inch of rain every three to four days to help them pollinate.
Mayne said this year’s rainfall appeared to be more sudden, and in a shorter amount of time, than the flooding in May 2018, when more rain fell overall. At one point Monday, about 18 inches of water was moving across his driveway, he said.
It wasn’t expected, but the rain will help him get through the season.
“It takes a lot of water to keep a good crop, and keep the yards looking good,” he said with a laugh.
Ferguson said crops that are in the ground now, such as corn and soybeans, are resilient, but in low-lying areas where there is flooding, erosion and standing water are possible.
Fry said rain can wash out service roads and erode crops, leaving behind ditches that need to be repaired.
“After all the rain that we had last year, I’ve had more ditches in fields than I’ve ever had in my lifetime,” he said.
Ferguson said that if the rain had fallen in April, when crops were just beginning to grow and the ground had still been cold, a lot of the water would not have been absorbed.
“I would say that the impact to the farmer is not going to be as bad as it could have been,” Ferguson said.
Staff writer Steve Bohnel contributed to this report.