Washington County has a diverse
and rich agriculture base. It is the largest industry in the county
bringing in over $63 million dollars in 2007, the latest figures
available at this time. We have over 180 farms that have an average size
of 518 acres. Products produced range from vegetables, corn, soybeans,
wheat, cotton, cattle and swine. Washington County is home to one of the
largest vegetable farms east of Raleigh and ranks in the top 10 counties
for corn, Irish potatoes, soybeans and wheat production. The large
animal industry in NC makes the sale of these products easy with ready
markets in close proximity.
The average age
of the Washington County farmer is 58 years old with many farms being
ready to transition to the next generation. The future of agriculture is
strong for Washington County. The producers are some of the most
productive in the state. Diversification of enterprises will be the key
to remaining viable. Some of this diversification will include organic
and/or natural products, biotechnology, and equipment technology that
make the producers more efficient. The advent of GPS and its application
to large-scale farming have made Washington County farmers some of the
most technologically advanced in the world.
In June and July, you can see farmers bringing in
potatoes. From mid-August through September, corn is harvested and
soybeans and cotton are picked from late September through November.
Some farms cover 3000-5000 acres and utilize behemoth farm machines
which resemble giant robotic insects. After harvest time, the fields
become a haven for migratory waterfowl, who feed on the leftover grains.
If you are fortunate, you may also see black bear and deer in the early
morning and late afternoon, taking advantage of a bountiful feast left
for them to enjoy. There is something about a vast expanse of rich,
planted farmland that feeds the soul, and connects the present to the
farthest reaches of the past, bringing a sense of continuity and calm to
the chaotic, fast-changing world in which we live.