Drought taking toll on area crops

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, July 11, 2000

Almost every area in Lincoln County has been in some wayaffected by the lack of rainfall and consistently high temperaturesthis year, according to County Agent Perry Brumfield.

“Overall, the whole county is under a lot of stress due to thedrought, and it’s going to continue with more hot weatherexpected,” said Brumfield.

Temperatures have been in the mid 90s for at least two weekswith only patches of rainfall. The county has seen only 20.21inches of rain this year compared to 31.81 inches by this time lastyear, according to records at the Waste Water Treatment Plant inBrookhaven.

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Although the small amount of precipitation has been welcomed, ithas in some ways been negative because of the humidity itbrought.

“When there’s a lot of humidity, cows just don’t milk as well,so dairy farmers are affected,” said Brumfield.

While milk prices are down, so are the production numbers in thedairy industry.

Dairy farmers are not the only ones suffering from the stickyweather. Cattle farmers are also having problems withproduction.

“Due to the drought, our cattle producers have had to sell theircalves early because they cannot feed them,” said Brumfield.

The lack of rain has caused grass to grow slower, or not at all,and hay is not being harvested as much either. Cattle farmersaren’t able to beef the cattle up as much, Brumfield said.

Other crops being affected include tomatoes and corn, which hasreceived the most damage.

“Our corn crops have been almost completely wiped out,” saidBrumfield. “We’re really in bad shape.”

Small farmers in the county are having problems keeping theirgardens alive, too, added Brumfield.

The gardens are drying out and vegetable gardens are about 60percent under their normal yield this year.

The solution is more precipitation, whether it comes fromrainfall or irrigation practices. Brumfield suggests farmers watertheir crops as much as possible to help curb the negative affectsof the drought.

“People are going to have to actually pull their water hoses outand water their gardens and lawns,” he said, adding that lawns inthe area are also dying at a rapid pace.

The only agriculture related industry that has been able toproduce is the timber industry.

“As far as the timber industry, it’s going to stand,” saidBrumfield. “Although it’s dry, they’re going to survive.”

The dry weather allows work crews more days to cut trees andclear timber areas, but this also has a negative effect.

Because work crews are able to bring in such large quantities oftimber during dry weather, the lumber yards begin to fill up andtimber prices tend to fall.

As the only feasible solution is rainfall and it is not forecastfor some time. Brumfield suggests everyone continue to water andirrigate crops and lawns as best as possible.