Dry weather affecting farmers

Published 11:00 pm Friday, July 13, 2012

Written by Tyler Spivey

The recent dry weather in Pike County has put farmers in a difficult situation this summer and Gov. Robert Bentley announced on Friday that the county was one of 33 declared “primary natural disaster areas.”

Most areas in the South are dealing with a lack of precipitation. In Alabama, more than 90 percent of the state is suffering from arid conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

John Dorrill, president of the Pike County Farmer’s Federation, works with timber and cattle and hasn’t had too much trouble with the dry weather, although the farmers that work with crops are experiencing difficulty.

He said that there has been “severe damage” to corn in particular.

As a result of the drought emergency declaration by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack, farmers in nearly half of Alabama’s counties will be eligible for low-interest federal loans.

Farmers this year have seen record-breaking temperatures already and the National Weather Service reported 2012 is the warmest year on record since 1895.

“Unless you’ve got irrigation there’s really nothing you can do,” said Jeff Knotts of the Farm Service Agency.

That’s what has been helpful to Nick Deandrea who owns the Berry Patch of Alabama. He said his production has still be successful thanks to irrigation.

Cliff Boutwell works at the Berry Patch and said a “drip line” that consistently drops water onto plants has worked for the farm.

“Farmers are so important to our economy,” Dorrill said, adding that he was sympathetic to those who have been hit hard. “They make great contributions.”

Despite all the misfortune, those hoping for a break from the heat are in luck.

“It looks like we’re going to have relief from the hot temperatures,” said Jessica Talley, a meteorologist at the Birmingham office of the National Weather Service.

Talley said some of that relief would come in the form of scattered precipitation.

According to Talley, it’s hard to say that any temperatures or conditions are “normal” since weather patterns in the summer are typically unorganized

According to the National Weather Service there is a only a 30 percent chance of rain in Troy today.