Recent weather fluctuations good for farmers

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Blount County (WVLT) - The storms that killed one woman and ripped down trees, were actually a welcomed sight for farmers.

Most of East Tennessee picked up around an inch of rain. Farmers say that puts them in much better shape than this time last year.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy visited some Blount County farmers.

Right now, it's wet and muddy outside, but farmers say that's how they like it this time of year. The rain helped with drought, but it's not gone.

As the rain falls...farmers' hope rises.

"I'm thinking hopefully the wind will just go down, and it'll just rain," farmer Bobby Coning said.

Because Blount County Farmer Bobby Coning says Mother Nature's got plenty of catch-up to do. Last summer...

"The water table was so low, ponds were dry , creeks were low," Coning said.

A problem that dried up his 400-plus acres of crops.

"It wasn't the best, but it was far from the worst," Coning said.

Last December through February was the driest East Tennessee winter on record. Only five-and-three-quarters inches of rain fell. That set the stage for a more than a foot-annual rain deficit.

"I think we're probably starting the year off better this year than last," farmer Mac Pate said.

Dairy Farmer Mac Pate's right. This year, we're about five inches ahead of last year. Thanks in part to Tuesday's inch of rainfall.

"I just hope it doesn't shut off too soon," Pate said.

Because Pate's already using his carry-over of hay to feed his cows. There's not enough to do that again next year.

"The majority of the water comes out of the ground, not falling from the sky, like from springs and things like that," Coning said.

So with every drop that falls, Mother Nature builds up supply. That makes farmers job easier, not just with having crops, but planting them.

"What it does is----you got the water in the ground, and if you get a freeze, that will break the ground a part," Coning said.

That puts farmers in fast forward.

"You can just till it up one time over and you're ready to plant," Coning said.

For now, all they can do is hope the weather keeps falling in their favor.

Farmers say the drought's not the biggest problem right now. It's the cost of diesel and fertilizer.

In terms of rainfall, we're still about a third of an inch below where we should be for the year. These storms are essential to build up and maintain surface moisture.
Farmers say that way, they won't end up as dry again.


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