Local News

Drought is hurting farmers

Posted September 20, 2010 7:30 p.m. EDT
Updated September 20, 2010 8:07 p.m. EDT

— The dry weather is affecting crops across the state. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 30 counties are currently experiencing drought conditions, including three northeastern counties, where severe drought has emerged.

Farmer Johnny Smith said his corn production is one-fourth of last year's crop because of the drought.

Smith farms 600 acres outside Eastover. He also grows soybeans, but that crop is suffering as well.

"They look pretty good, but they've gone backwards in the last three weeks. We haven't had no rain,” Smith said.

Smith said this year's heat is worse than 2007. The state experienced a record-setting drought from the summer of 2007 to the spring of 2008, and some counties were slow to recover.

Farmers said this year will also be hard to recover from as the heat just doesn't want to leave.

"It should be much cooler now than it is,” Smith said.

Smith is not alone as corn production statewide is down 18 percent from last year. Soybeans are down 23 percent, but cotton is up 15 percent over last year.

Brian Long, a spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said cotton production is higher, in part, because farmers have “planted a boatload” of it this year.

Peanuts are also up 8 percent. As for tobacco in eastern North Carolina, production is down 13 percent from last year.