Drought affects agriculture - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Drought affects agriculture

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As the drought gets more severe, it's affecting more areas of agriculture from livestock to vegetable crops.

Governor Nathan Deal is requesting a federal disaster designation for 22 counties including nearly a dozen in our area.

The designation would allow farmers to apply for emergency loans.

Ellis Black is farming 90 acres of cotton this year in Clyattville.

"Cotton at this stage can withstand a lot of dry weather but still we lose yield if we could get some rain we could end up making more cotton come this fall when we can harvest it," said Black.

Black says his neighbor has already lost some of his corn.

"If we don't get some rain right now on most of this corn crop around here that doesn't have irrigation, it won't be harvested," said Black.

Black says Lowndes County certainly qualifies as a disaster area.

The drought has been taking it's toll on everything from tree crops to livestock to the vegetable production here in Lowndes County," said Melinda Miller, the Lowndes County extension coordinator.

One of those vegetable crops is the bell pepper.

"If the plant is reduced in size due to the heat it will not properly shade the fruit and the sun will bleach the chlorophyll and cause sun scalding," said Lowndes County Extension Agent Calvin Wills.

And perhaps the part of agriculture that's the biggest concern is livestock. Willis says we haven't had a true spring to green up the pastures. Once the hay reserves run out he says farmers may have to sell their animals.

"If we don't get some relief and moisture here they'll be another story to be told of how many animals hit the market," said Willis. "It'll effect the marketing price here in the next six to eight weeks for livestock."

Willis hopes for the disaster designation so farmers can receive low interest loans to help them cover their losses.

Many farmers are having a tough time finding enough workers to pick their crops because of Georgia's tough new immigration law.

The longer crops stay in the field the more susceptible they are to over ripening and sun scald.

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