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FRIDAY, AUGUST 24, 2007
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Drought-damaged cotton in a field in Lawrence County on Thursday. Area cotton growers expect yields of  350-400 pounds of cotton per acre this year, down from about 700 pounds per acre during a normal season.
Daily photos by Gary Lloyd
Drought-damaged cotton in a field in Lawrence County on Thursday. Area cotton growers expect yields of 350-400 pounds of cotton per acre this year, down from about 700 pounds per acre during a normal season.

Area farmers see low yields due to drought

By Nancy Glasscock
nglasscock@decaturdaily.com · 340-2443

Record-breaking weather has taken a toll on cotton crops, giving local farmers and gin owners little hope for fall harvests, said Mark Yeager, owner of Yeager Gin in Moulton.

“We had a record dry March to plant corn, a record Easter freeze, then a record drought until July, now record heat,” he said. “It’s just been one extreme after another.”

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service say cotton crops in decent shape after rain in July have deteriorated rapidly and corn crops have no chance.

Corn harvesting on Dan Darnell’s farm in Lawrence County on Friday.  Area corn growers expect 20 to 80 bushels per acre this year, down from about 120 to 180 bushels per acre during a normal season.
Corn harvesting on Dan Darnell’s farm in Lawrence County on Friday. Area corn growers expect 20 to 80 bushels per acre this year, down from about 120 to 180 bushels per acre during a normal season.
Yeager said area cotton growers say they expect yields of 350-400 pounds of cotton per acre this year, down from about 700 pounds per acre during a normal season. Area corn growers expect 20 to 80 bushels per acre, down from about 120 to 180 bushels per acre during a normal season.

Hillsboro cotton and corn grower Dan Darnell said this year’s drought will result in the worst yields he has experienced in 35 years of farming. Darnell grows corn and cotton in fields off Lawrence County 400.

Reluctant to say how many acres he farms, he said he doesn’t have enough land when times are good and too much during times like the present.

“Cotton is just really bad, and the corn crop is going to be, too,” he said.

Roger Felkins, manager of Hillsboro Gin, said farmers like Mark Hamilton, co-owner of Hillsboro Gin, will begin defoliating cotton crops in early September and could begin picking around Sept. 15 or as late as October. Hillsboro Gin processed about 18,000 bales last year, and Fulkins said about 12,000 bales will be processed at the gin this year because of the drought.

“It’s the worst in many, many years,” Felkins said.

Lawrence County Extension Agent Heath Potter said the end of this harvest season will conclude a year of ups and downs for crops.

“What started out as a really slow year turned into a year of great promise,” he said. “Then, it’s gone basically down the tubes now with the drought.”

Potter said the Tennessee Valley needs significant rainfall to make up for the recent dry weeks and rain deficits since last summer.

“It’s going to take days and weeks to get us started in the right direction,” he said.

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