Maryville farm feeling impacts of record rain

Local News

During the winter, colder temperatures are expected and prepared to handle, at least, in some fields, like farming. In East Tennessee, traditional expectations of spring, summer, winter, and fall aren’t always so typical. 

In fact, one farmer believes it’s taken him decades to figure it out. 

“It’s gonna get dry, it’s gonna get hot and July we’ll be screaming ‘Where [did] all the water get to’, that’s just how it is in farming, one extreme to the other sometimes,” said Albert Coning. 

Coning has been farming in Maryville for 60 years, he owns and operates Coning Family Farm. The most significant changes he’s seen in his experience farming: technology. 

“If I wanted to have a job that was more secure, I wouldn’t be farming,” said Coning. 

Over the last month, the Alcoa area has received more than one foot of water. That’s a lot of rain in a short period of time, something Coning says has caused some issues with flooded greenhouses on his farm. 

“You can get a lot of rain if it’s spread out over a period of two or three weeks. But when you get four inches in two or three hours, big problems,” said Coning. 

So, he’s pumping water out of flooded greenhouses, unable to begin planting in one greenhouse because the ground is too saturated. 

Another issue: fertilization.

The ground is too wet to take fertilizer, so crops aren’t getting the nutrients necessary as timely as Coning says he would like. 

Although there are immediate impacts seen in the flooded greenhouse or delayed plantings, the real impact happens when it’s time to harvest. 

“Sometimes you just don’t know whether it will be good or not,” said Coning, speaking about a crop that doesn’t produce as much as years before – or even, is delayed in harvest. That’s time Coning won’t be selling, profit he won’t make. 

Even with record rain, Coning says he isn’t worried but instead, he’s at work finding solutions to problems on the farm, being proactive. 

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