Despite drought, sweet corn harvest excellent - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Despite drought, sweet corn harvest excellent

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June 11, 2007

Terrell County -- Mark Daniel says his Sweet corn harvest is busy, thanks to a good crop. Mark Daniel says "it's real sweet. You can just take it and eat it like this right here. Real good flavor."

 Daniel is at the peak of harvest in his 23 acres of corn. He has white, silver queen, silver king, and bi color varieties. But this was a hard crop to grow.  Because of the drought it took almost round the clock irrigation. Daniel said "basically we didn't get any rain from the time we planted until about a week ago. We started getting some good rain three or four days ago, and that has been a God send."

 Daniel knows many South Georgia farmers planted big crops of field corn, to take advantage of the ethanol demand for the crop. He says the irrigated crops will make it, but the dry land corn is a disaster because of the drought. Daniel said "you had to rely solely on irrigation. All the other farmers with all this corn have just been working themselves to death. My uncle and cousin have been running irrigation like crazy on all their field corn."

 Daniel said this was a very expensive crop to grow, because of the high price of fertilizer, and diesel fuel for irrigation. But he is happy with the final product. The yield is really good. The quality is really good. It's selling good, so I'm really pleased. "

Agronomists say scattered rain showers over the weekend gave some relief, but Georgia farmers are still a long way from recovering from the extreme drought. Daniel has not raised his price for his sweet corn, despite the added cost it took to grow it. It costs $3.50 for a dozen ears. He sells most of it at his road side stand, Mark's Melon Patch in Sasser.

Friday Governor Sonny Perdue requested the state of Georgia be declared a disaster area because of one of the worst droughts on record. This is the second disaster declaration request this year by the Governor to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In April, the U.S.D.A. Approved emergency loans for farmers in 158 of Georgia's 159 counties because of a late freeze, that resulted in massive production losses.  

144 Georgia counties have been classified as under extreme or severe drought conditions. Agronomists say scattered rain showers over the weekend gave some relief, but Georgia farmers are still a long way from recovering from the extreme drought.

Agriculture experts say as much as 30-percent of the state's corn crop will be abandoned. University of Georgia agronomist Dr. Dewey Lee says Georgia farmers planted a modern record 425,000 acres of corn this year.

But the drought decimated almost the entire dryland crop, and Lee says the rain in the last two weeks is probably too late. Lee said some Southwest Georgia farmers got as much as two inches over the weekend, while others. like those in Tift County, got almost none.

 If the disaster declaration is issued, farmers in disaster counties would be able to apply for low interest emergency loans at their local Farm Service Agency office.  

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