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Cultivator — July 15, 2016

Lack Of Rain Worries Alabama Farmers

Clay Kennamer raises corn silage in Jackson County. Normally, the corn would be more than six feet high by July. Because of severe drought this year, corn he planted in mid-May is about knee-high. Kennamer said he received two-tenths of an inch of rain July 10.

Drought is affecting more than 40 percent of Alabama, with another 20 percent of the state rated abnormally dry.

Lack of summer rainfall has farmers across the state concerned for crops and livestock. Jackson County cattle farmer Clay Kennamer lives in an extreme drought area, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

"Most people up here are feeding hay once or twice a week," Kennamer said. "There won't be any hay here this winter, but it's not like we'll have to go to Texas to get hay. There should be some within 100 miles because the drought isn't that widespread."

Kennamer planted 65 acres of corn in mid-May for silage. He said soil fertility was good, but drought has stunted corn growth.

"The tallest corn is only three feet tall," he said. "Our corn still has a chance because it's planted later, but this drought is wearing us out."

Shelby County row crop farmer John DeLoach said his cotton and soybeans could use rain, but he's most concerned about his corn.

"No amount of rain will help the corn now; it is what it is," DeLoach said. "I'm expecting only 60 percent of our average yield on corn. But I've been wrong before, and I wouldn't mind being wrong again."

DeLoach said he planted more cotton acres than other crops because he was concerned about drought.

"During cotton planting, there was a stretch where we had a quarter inch of rain in four weeks," he said. "Cotton takes dry weather better than corn, but it's still going to be a rough year."

According to the July 11 Crop Progress and Condition Report for Alabama, very poor or poor ratings were given to 30 percent of the corn crop, 26 percent of pasture and 17 percent of soybeans. In contrast, over 95 percent of cotton and peanuts were rated fair or better.


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