Drought making major impact on some East Alabama farmers

Drought making major impact on some East Alabama farmers

SALEM, Ala. (WTVM) - For most people across the Chattahoochee Valley, the last time there was a really good, soaking rain was at the end of August or early September. And for farms in the area, that can have big impacts on crops now, and for months to come.

For farmers, every year is a gamble.

“I’ve learned to be very frugal on the bad years,” said Rod Havens, of Blueberry Havens.

Garret Dixon, the owner and operator of Dixon Farms, agreed.

“It takes a lot of faith to put money in the ground every year and hope you get a return from it,” he said.

Havens’ blueberries did great this season.

“[It was] probably the best in about five years,” he said.

But this year is bringing some challenges to Dixon with his peanut crops.

“The Inverter, which digs up the peanuts, it will pull up large dirt clods," he said. "The drier the dirt, the larger the clods. It makes it harder to dig up the peanuts and you will have more crop loss.”

His cotton crops are also affected.

“I’m thinking it will be about 20 percent less than what we had last year,” Dixon said.

This is all because of a drought sweeping much of the southeastern United States.

Dixon said it’s been more than five weeks since they’ve had a good rain, and combine that with the recent temperatures around 15 degrees above average, it’s been a difficult combination for him.

Even if rain came now, with the crops almost done growing, the damage has been done.

“With the cotton, it would just delay us in getting the cotton picked,” he said.

Havens and Dixon said no matter who you are, this drought is impacting you.

“When farmers are successful, it tends to benefit you too," Havens said. “[There’s] more variety, prices go down when there’s bountiful crops.”

Dixon emphasized the importance of agriculture in Alabama.

“Alabama agriculture provides the food and fiber that feeds and clothes the United States and the world," he said. "Everything you do throughout your day to day is directly related to agriculture.”

To help farmers, homeowners, and more navigate this drought, the Alabama Extension Office created this website.

Copyright 2019 WTVM. All rights reserved.