Heavy rain takes heavy toll on Galivants Ferry tobacco farm

Standing water in the middle of a tobacco crop in Aynor

After the recent heavy rain, some tobacco farmers in Aynor and Galivants Ferry are taking a major hit.

Martin Johnson, owner of A Martin Johnson Farms, said Wednesday that the rain may have cost him half of his revenue for the year.

Almost all of Martin Johnson's crop is under water.

In the past two weeks, the area's been hit by more than 18 inches of rain, nearly 5 inches in the past few days.

"It just saturates the soil. There's nowhere for it to go. All the ditches are full, drainage is at full capacity so it just settles into the field," explained Johnson.

Tobacco is a crop that needs no more than just a few inches of rain to grow. Right now, Johnson's crop is drowning and cooking under the hot summer sun.

"The tobacco roots will die off and then the extra saturated water, when the temperatures rise above 90 degrees basically cooks the tobacco in the field causing you to lose weight and when the roots are damaged and you're more susceptible to diseases," he said.

This means that time is of the essence for Johnson to save the crop before what's left is destroyed.

"You probably have two to three weeks to get the best that you can get out of this," he said.

And Johnson and his crew aren't wasting a minute.

He said they're working around the clock to get the tobacco ready for harvest.

The heavy rain has taken a toll on Johnson's machines too.

On Wednesday, a wheel off one of Johnson's trailers came off and had to be repaired.

"When this is how you make your living and you know it's all on the line, repair costs are minimal so you go anyway. The conditions are just not set up for mechanical harvesting and there's not enough labor in this area to hand crop it all," he said.

But Johnson said he tries to deal with the hand Mother Nature has dealt and adapts.

"You can't take it and let it stress you out. You just can only do what you can do and you just have to stay positive and turn it over to the Lord," he said.

Johnson added that it could still be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months before he knows how much of a loss this rain has claimed on his crop.

Johnson's farm produces about 150 acres of cured tobacco a year.