Hurricane Irene subjected crops in northeast North Carolina and across the eastern third of Virginia with six to eight hours of howling wind and up to 16 inches of rain.

Though there was damage, the consensus is that agriculture in the region fared much better than expected.

In Pasquotank County, N.C., Extension Agriculture Agent Al Wood says he feared catastrophic crop damage after being battered for eight to ten hours with winds that packed 60-75 mph gusts and torrential rainfall. “I was definitely expecting the worst when I went out to look at crops in the area,” he says.

Severe drought had delayed crops and there was still an unusually high number of corn acres left to be harvested. Corn withstood the storm much better than expected Wood says. 

How much damage to the remaining corn crop remains to be seen, but Wood says from first look it appears to be minimal.

There was also relatively little damage to cotton, which for the most part had few open bolls. Had the storm hit a few weeks later, with a high percentage of open bolls, the combination of wind and rain would have likely taken a much, much higher toll, Wood says.

Soybeans also benefited from late planting and late maturity. There were some soybean fields that had leaves stripped off and some were blown over by the high winds, but all in all, Wood says the soybean crop appears to have survived the storm much better than he expected.