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Farmers celebrate drought’s end

Children will flock to their presents under the Christmas trees this morning, but Pike County farmers have received a present that can’t be unwrapped.

For the first time in two years, Alabama is drought free.

And though there is no predicting what will happen come planting season this spring, Pike County Extension Agent Tammy Powell said this will shine at least a glimmer of hope for now.

“To have water making sure the land is ready right now for spring planting is indispensable,” Powell said.

But even some farmers are seeing the results right now, with winter wheat and fruits planted in the ground.

Powell said the drought that has plagued the state for years has left Pike County crops scarce for at least the last two years, and if the drought doesn’t stay away, this year could be the worst yet.

“This past year was better than in previous years,” Powell said. “But, a lot of farmers could not have gone another year financially. It’s hard to go year after year when you’re starting out with a deficit.”

National Weather Service Meteorologist Holly Britton said the forecast for Pike County will leave rain chances at or just slightly below normal water levels for the next three months, but she isn’t sure whether the drought will stay away.

“I don’t know if we’ll fall back into drought,” Britton said. “As long as that continues we should be OK.”

Powell said this drought relief will do more than just prepare the land for planting season. Above all, it will prepare the farmers’ mentally.

“It makes a lot of difference because the farmers will feel a lot better, and a lot of farming is mental,” Powell said. “It makes them feel better and that’s important. When it looks like things are good, they are mentally prepared.”

Powell said most of the spring crops will be planted in February and March.