Weather

State's corn crops parched by record heat

Posted July 20, 2011 4:42 p.m. EDT
Updated July 20, 2011 7:33 p.m. EDT

— Record-high temperatures and widespread drought have plagued North Carolina throughout June and July, hitting the state's staple crops hard. Corn crops, in particular, are suffering under a nationwide heat wave.

Agriculture officials have grouped North Carolina with Indiana, Illinois, Kansas and Texas for having the most damaged corn crops this season.

"In my opinion, it's one of the worst corn crops in recent memory," said Vance Tyson, who grows 300 to 400 acres of corn in the Gray's Creek area of southern Cumberland County.

Agriculture extension agent Colby Lambert estimated that 80 percent of the crop in Cumberland County is damaged or ruined.

"We had a lot of corn that just didn't pollinate due to the heat wave we had in June," Lambert said.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says 40 percent of the state's corn crop is considered poor or very poor, and summer temperatures are only expected to get hotter.

"Corn is not one of those things that enjoy intense heat," Tyson said. "It should be deep green (and) pretty. Instead, it's crispy (and) toasty."

Other crops are suffering as well. Soybeans, for example, are "not growing at all right now," Lambert said.

Tyson guessed he would harvest a half crop of corn "at the very best" this season, but he said there's no use in complaining.

"There are things the farmer can't control, and the weather is one of them," he said. "The Lord gives you what he wants to give you, and we just hope for another year."