Drought



Transcript


Chris Ramsey
UT Extension, Sullivan County

Dr. Joanne Logan
UT Agricultural Experiment Station


Mike Cox
Sullivan County Farmer
Beth Babbit
UT Extension


Chuck Denney
UT institute of Agriculture


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Chuck Denney
Walk across a lot of yards in Tennessee, and you’ll hear this. (Crunch) Not good. But for most of us, drought means an ugly, brown lawn. In agriculture, the stakes are much higher. When farming is your livelihood – and the rain bucket is empty – it’s tough.

Chris Ramsey
“We’re already in a very dry situation with forages and short on forage supplies with area livestock producers.”

Chuck Denney
Sullivan County beef producer Mike Cox is already having to feed cattle hay that he normally gives them in winter. They’re supposed to be eating grass now, but there’s not much of it growing.

Mike Cox
“We’ve got about a third of a crop of hay. We’ve got ponds going dry. We’re looking for avenues to buy hay, and we’re finding dead ends.”

Chuck Denney
Just about anywhere you go in Tennessee, you’ll find a rainfall deficit for 2007. Here in the Tri-Cities, they’ve gotten only about half the normal amount of rain for the year. That goes for the rest of the state too, with much of Tennessee anywhere from ten to 15 inches below normal in rainfall.

Dr. Joanne Logan
“Yeah, we’ve had problems with rainfall since last summer, and then the heat, combined with the heat. We’ve had record-breaking temperatures the last few weeks. It’s been extremely hot, ten degrees above normal. So that’s a deadly combination for agriculture.”

Chuck Denney

Crops and lawns aren’t the only things hurting from a lack of moisture.

Beth Babbit

“This is what you’ll get next year if you don’t water your plants now.”

Chuck Denney

“Those tomatoes have basically the same taste as the ones growing in the field. We grow them the same way, and we grow the same varieties basically too. They do have the Grainger County taste.”

Chuck Denney

Beth Babbit is a gardening expert with UT Extension. She says plants need about an inch of water a week, and don’t forget those taller plants.

Beth Babbit
“I would concentrate on watering big things like trees. With the cold snap that we had this spring, a lot of trees are going to be suffering and need a little bit extra water this summer.”

Chuck Denney
But the encouraging word is that extra water may still be on the way in the form of old fashioned rainfall. UT’s Dr. Joanne Logan says the long range forecast is for a return to normal.

Dr. Joanne Logan
“So the prediction right now is to kind of get back to a normal pattern by the summer of those late afternoon thunderstorms, an inch of rain a week. So we’ve got our fingers crossed.”

Chuck Denney
For now, much of the state is dry but not too desperate. There’s no question that prolonged drought is harmful, but there’s still time to recover. All it would take is a few soakers..

END

NOTE: Most of Tennessee averages about 50 inches of rain a year. But some areas have seen only about a dozen inches so far in 2007.