Drought Takes Toll on Loudon Crops

By: Stephen McLamb
By: Stephen McLamb

Loudon, Loudon County (WVLT) - This year's drought is taking a huge toll on area farmers, and crops, such as corn, are taking a beating as it nears harvesting time and cattle have little hay to eat.

Because other parts of the nation are not experiencing drought conditions it's not expected to have an impact on store prices.

But it will affect farmers who contribute to local economies.

This year's drought is taking its toll. This creek has been fed by a spring for decades.

"My dad is almost 70 years old and he has never seen it dry. Of course, I haven't either and it dried up two weeks ago Tuesday,” David Richesin of Cherry Brook Farms has nearly a thousand acres personally invested in corn. "Once it tassles, no matter how much more it rains this corn is history."

And he's having to watch it grow up only to die. "There's no yield here. It's a total loss. It will not be harvested for anything," says Richesin.

"It's just like a little baby. If it doesn't get water soon it will just die right there." His soybean crop is on life support. If it starts to get water it has a chance, but Richesin says it faces another danger later. "If we get an early frost. These plants are so late coming out of the ground."

The drought is making things difficult for most all crop farmers, but also cattle who need something to eat.

"Some folks have never stopped feeding hay until they run out. When they run out they take their cattle to the market and they sell them. It's the only alternative that they have,” says Loudon County Extension Agent John Goddard.

Because other parts of the nation are doing well, Goddard says it shouldn't affect the price at the store but it will have a local economic impact.

"Now he's not going to have the money to put shoes on his kids feet when they start back to school this fall but it will definitely have an impact on what he has to spend,” Goddard explains.

Sad news, considering corn prices are on the rise.

"If you don't have a product to harvest, doesn't matter what the price is. It just makes your loss that much greater in your mind,” Richesin says.

Goddard says there is hope for the hay crop which is vital for cattle to get through the winter, but the key is getting some rain.

He says while they should be cutting today, it's looking more like Thanksgiving.


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