Dismal crop year not

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 8, 2000

overcome by recent rain


Staff Writer

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Sept. 7, 2000 10 PM

This week’s rain has brought some relief through cooler temperatures, but hasn’t done much for agriculture.

National Weather Service weather watcher Frank Mathews, who lives in Banks, said he’s recorded a little more than 7 inches of rain this month.

"We’re still 14 to 15 inches below what we ought to be for the year," Mathews said.

As far as the farmers are concerned, "It’s too little too late," said David Carpenter, extension agent for Pike County.

He said the cooler temperatures accompanying the rain help a little, but there’s not much that can be done to salvage a dismal crop year..

All the rain can do at this point is put water in the ponds that have disappeared during the months of drought and give farmers "one more good cutting of hay," Carpenter said.

"Hay is about all it can help," Carpenter said. "The corn’s gone. The cotton’s gone. The peanuts have done all they’re going to do."

Carpenter said the months without rainfall have created dire circumstances for area farmers.

"It’s been a disaster all the way around," Carpenter said. "It will be felt in every aspect of farming."

Although the farming community has been possibly the hardest hit, acres of Alabama have been scorched over the summer months.

The unseasonable drought meant more wildfires than any full year since 1998, Alabama Forestry Commission records show.

In fiscal year 2000, more than 73,000 acres burned and the conditions have forced the Forestry Commission to put bans on outdoor burning statewide.

Records show 73,240 acres have burned during 4,459 fires. since Oct. 1, 1999. That 11-month total is the most acreage burned since 13,000 fires burned 245,000 acres in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 1998.

During fiscal year 1999, 4,459 fires burned 49,057 acres.

There is a 50 percent chance of rain in the forecast today which would still be a welcome sight to many people, but to the area’s farmers, it’s still too little too late.