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Farmers Losing Crops Due to Lack of Rain

By Natalie Potts
By Npotts@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn. - The new Tennessee Crop Report was released Monday and it has some West Tennessee farmers worried about the future of their crops.

According to the National Agriculture Statistics Report for Tennessee, last week, just 41 percent of the state's corn was in good condition. With temperatures reaching triple digits this past week, experts said crop conditions are now suffering. The statistics report a recent drop to a low 19 percent good quality this week alone.

Farmers said the oppressive heat and brutally dry conditions are inching their crops to the point of no return. The twisting corn and dry pastures come as a surprise to some farmers who believe they had a good start .

"The conditions farmers are facing now are becoming tragic, and I say tragic because farmers had such a great start this spring with the planting season that went to well," said Ginger Rowsey, UT Communications Specialist.

Tennessee's most recent crop report states the current crop conditions dropped 12 percent in both poor and very poor rankings over the past week. Local farmers said at this rate, their crops are at risk.

"The pastures are drying up. The hay crop has been bad meaning farmers are not going to have this stock pile of hay to feed through the winter and ponds are drying up," said Rowsey.

Corn and cotton farmer David Bird told 7 Eyewitness News that he is concerned about his corn's ability to pollinate this season due to the heat.

"Corn really needs rain and a break from the heat, corn is rolling up and wilting during the day. When you see that its not a good thing especially during corn fill," said Bird.

It's been three weeks since the last rain in Madison County, if the drought continues Bird said nearly 2,300 acres will suffer on his property.

"This is the time when its making the grain, the next 10 days or 2 weeks its got to have rain or it will be done," said Bird.

With soil drying out by the day, Bird said at this point all he can do is pray that mother nature will give him a break.

"If your yield is reduced by 40 percent then that means you're not going to have a pay day this year as far as profit," Bird

Experts said the profit farmers make out in the field ultimately effects residents in the long run.

"When farmers face these bad conditions with drought and weather eventually all consumers are going to see the effects of these as well," said Rowsey.

Only 8 percent of the state's pastures, where livestock graze are considered to be in good condition according to the Agricultural report.

Farmers said they are now starting to reduce their herds and selling off cattle to cut costs.