Some WV farmers hit by drought
O.S. Drought Monitor shows the far eastern counties (in beige) in a "moderate drought." Areas in yellow are listed as "abnormally dry."
August 5, 2010 ·
This year’s wet spring has morphed into a hot and dry summer in some areas of the state and that’s causing problems for farmers in some counties.
Assistant Agriculture Commissioner
Bob Tabb spends his time off trying to save the crops and nursery plants
growing on his Jefferson County farm. For trees and nursery plants he uses overhead sprinklers.
“We’ve been irrigating 24
hours a day for about two months now,” Tabb said. “To put an inch of water on
an acre of ground is about 26,000 gallons of water, so it takes a lot of water
to irrigate plants.”
Tabb is also irrigating
about eight acres of sweet corn, eight acres of pumpkins and winter squash and
two acres of produce like cucumbers, green beans and tomatoes.
“The only way that we would
have any crop right now is through irrigation; everything else is so dry that
it’s obvious if we miss a piece on irrigation it’s just not thriving at all,”
The U.S. Drought Monitor
shows Jefferson, Berkeley, Morgan, Hampshire, Hardy Counties and most of Pendleton County in a moderate drought. Parts of
13 other eastern and southeastern counties in West Virginia are listed as abnormally dry.
Tabb said that’s resulting
in crop loss for farms without irrigation, and making fruit crops like peaches
and apples smaller. It’s also forcing
farmers to feed winter hay to livestock because pastures have dried up.
“Most of them have been
feeding hay for at least a couple of weeks now, so they’re using their winter
time feed supply during the summer,” Tabb said. “And there wasn’t a full crop
of hay this year, it varied anywhere from about 50 to about 80 percent yield
what a normal hay crop would be.”
Tabb said some farmers are
starting to use up their winter feed supply and they will be forced to wither reduce
the amount of livestock they keep over the winter or will have to buy more hay,
which is more expensive this year because of the poor growing season.