MOULTRIE -- Recent soggy conditions are great for fishing but rain on the parade of tractors usually headed out to the planting fields right about now.

The state officially has declared an end to the five-year drought, but farmers are saying enough is enough.

The delay is particularly throwing off the planting of watermelons and cantaloupes, whose height of sale is the week before the Fourth of July, County Extension Agent Glenn Beard said. The county's melon crop should have been planted in early March, he said, and other vine crops, such as squash, zucchini and cucumbers, are lagging behind as well.

The time lag is also crunching tobacco. Tobacco planting usually starts now, but muddy conditions are holding that up. Of greater impact, farmers haven't been able to fumigate for nematodes and other pests that can plague tobacco, and time is running out.

"We still have a little bit of time, but everybody is really antsy, because we are sort of on the knife edge for that," County Extension Agent Scott Brown said.

The time already has passed by for certain disease control efforts, Brown said. Last year, tomato spotted wilt virus took a great toll on the Colquitt County tobacco crop, the largest in the state.

Another major crop for the county, cabbage, is in the ground already, but the wet conditions have prevented land tillage and fertilization, Beard said, making the crop more susceptible to diseases. Peppers also have been planted but can't be sprayed for pests with the continued rains. The longer the produce sits unattended, the more stressed it gets and production could get thrown off.

"Until they're able to get their equipment in the field, we'll just have to wait," he said.

Even if it doesn't rain any more, Brown said, a week to 10 days would have to pass before farmers can get out in the dirt.

"I hate to complain about the rain ... We need it desperately, but we do need a break in it. There's going to come a point where it's going to quit, because it always does," he said.

One good thing about the downpours, Brown said, is that the subsoil is recharged and that should sustain crops if the weather turns dry -- once they're in the ground.

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