Farms struggling as extreme heat cause crops to die, livestock losing food


Photo: Getty Images

By Sarah Winkelmann

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 4:34 AM EDT

EFFINGHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - All of Chatham County is still experiencing severe drought conditions.

Right now this year is the 10th driest year we have on record. Now, the hot temperatures are causing problems with agriculture.

In Effingham County it is a similar story to Chatham County – they are in a severe drought and about six inches behind on the average rainfall for the year.

Now combined with the heat, it is causing concerns for the crops, but also the livestock.

Ben Boyd, an Effingham County farmer, says they do their best to keep the cows in the shade, try to get them some water to lay down in and hope a slight breeze continues to keep them cool.

“In our neck of the woods, raising cows is about raising grass and so one of the most important things to growing grass is water and if we don’t get the rain, it is hard to grow grass so if you don’t keep those cows fed they don’t stay happy and if they don’t stay happy, it doesn’t work,” Boyd said.

Normally the cattle just have grass but right now they are hauling hay from their winter stock for the cows to keep them fed, but with rising prices and inflation, they hope they don’t have to keep that up for too much longer.

They are trying to stay positive, but it just seems like one thing after another is hitting farmers this year. It could turn around a little if we finally get some substantial rainfall.

One month ago, Ben Boyd said if they didn’t get rain soon, they would be in trouble. Now trouble has arrived and its too late to save a lot of their corn crop.

About half of their fields that they cannot irrigate are a total loss this year, even the fields they were able to keep watering. The extreme heat is now causing those crops to not be as successful as he hoped.

While corn crop is very localized, consumers likely won’t notice an impact, but the farmers will take a big hit to their finances.

Boyd says they lose hundreds of dollars an acre, on hundreds of acres of land, losing tens of thousands of dollars on their corn crop this year.

“We’ve done this before but you can’t do it very many times in a row or you will be out of business because it will leave a big hole, it will leave a mark, it will take several good years to pick up one of these, that is the biggest trouble with what we do is you can dig such a hole so fast that it will take you a while to dig out of, 10 years the last time we had one like this.”

Boyd says this early in the season they could mow it all over and re-plant but the problem is, they are dealing with inflation like everyone else. Many of their prices have tripled, so starting over is not an option.

Even though the corn took a big hit already, he is hopeful rain will come and still save some of it. As far as the cotton and peanut crops, those are still fine right now and do better in the intense heat than the corn does.

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