Farmers need rain, heat relief - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Farmers need rain, heat relief

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

Worth County, GA (WALB) –  The heat wave is forcing south Georgia farmers to spend big money to keep their crops alive. Temperatures have topped 95º for 11 straight days, and this month has been one of the driest Julys on record.

This weather couldn't have come at a worst time because crops are entering a critical growth stage.

 It's raining in some southwest Georgia fields, of course that's just because man is making it rain. Unlike mother nature's showers, this water doesn't come cheap.

"It's hard on the pocket book right now more than anything. It's hard to make a crop when it doesn't rain," said Worth County Extension Coordinator Rusty Harris.

Clarence Jones and his son Jamie have been watering their 100 acres of peanuts and cotton on Highway 313 every couple of days.  "If you didn't have irrigation and it turned off dry like it is, it could wipe you out, you wouldn't have a thing," said Jones.

 It's costing them plenty for the diesel to keep the fields alive. "He'll fill up the tank and he'll run it a couple of days and it will cost him $200 to $300 dollars for that run and then in about four days he'll do it again. It's cost the farm about $2,000 so far," said Jones. 

Those with electric systems like this field on Highway 82 are a little better off.  "A minimum of eight dollars per acre inch with an electric system, and it can get up to $20 an acre inch with a diesel system," Harris said.

Right now farmers are hopeful this heat wave will give way to some showers soon. The problem is this is the heavy fruiting period for many crops. Without an inch and a half to two inches of rain a week, come this fall, it could cost farmers when the yield comes in. 

Only half the fields in Worth County have irrigation systems. Farmers say some crops in fields without the systems are already being considered a loss.

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