Farmers affected by heat, drought

By Colleen Donovan - bio | email | Twitter

FORREST COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Chuck Grantham is dealing with some unusual weather conditions.

Grantham, Forrest County's Director of Mississippi State's Extension Service Office, said "Normally, we see these conditions in August and early September. To see them in June is really different and puts us in a different situation for this time of year."

According to Grantham, the weather is putting local growers in a tough position.

"Most small farm operations are not irrigated," he said. "We do have some commercial vegetable growers here; a lot of them do not have irrigation, so their crops really suffered from the drought - a big loss for them economically."

"It must be stressed that this type of weather without water is a recipe for garden destruction," said Chris Cagle, owner of The New Yokel Market and manager for a group that hosts farmers markets in Hattiesburg and Laurel. "I'm sure many home gardeners have found this out."

Cagle said the drought is pushing local farmers to consider new methods.

"In a lot of ways, it's forcing Mississippi farmers to think like desert farmers, and the first step to successful desert farming is coming up with some way to water."

Crops aren't the only living things impacted by the drought. The grass which cattle feed on has not been growing.

Grantham said, "We were just transitioning from the spring into the summer, and the grasses and all - with no rain it really had a devastating affect on cattle having an adequate feed supply."

Grantham said many producers resorted to using hay commonly used in the winter or bag feed they bought to keep their animals fed.

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