Wiregrass facing severe drought conditions

Updated: Jun. 24, 2019 at 8:08 PM CDT
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HEADLAND, Ala. (WSFA) - Parts of Alabama are in need of a good soaking, specifically the Wiregrass.

According to drought data released by the National Integrated Drought Information System, parts of southeast Alabama are categorized as D2 - or severe drought.

“We’ve been in an extended dry period for a number of days. We’ve stretched about 35 to 40 days without any rainfall. If any, very little,” said Kris Balkcom, Extension Specialist.

Severe Drought brings the possibility of crop or pasture loss, water shortages, or imposed water restrictions. Some farmers are already reporting dry land corn crop loss and cattle farmers are also dealing with their share of concerns.

“Producers are really suffering from the lack of moisture. You don’t have the normal grass growth that we would expect, so we haven’t been able to come off of hay,” said Rickey Hudson, Regional Extension Agent.

Cattle farmers typically feed their cows hay until about March, when cows begin grazing on lush permanent pastures. That hasn’t happened.

“Here it is at the end of June and we’re still feeding hay,” said Hudson.

It’s an added expense for cattle farmers.

In addition to limited grazing options, cattle farmers are also dealing with making sure there is adequate water supply for their cattle. The less rain, the lower local streams become where cattle can get water. If farmers use a water tank system for their cows, the hot, dry weather means they’re pumping more water into tanks for their animals.

For example, a 400 pound cow consumes about 7 gallons a day in 80 degree temperature. In 90 degree temperature, they consuming roughly 10 gallons of water.

Farming experts suggest weaning calves quickly to help relieve pressure on cow herd. Lactating cows require more water.

Although some areas have gotten some showers, it’s not enough for good growing yet and there wasn’t enough rain when needed.

“Even a rain coming in now doesn’t erase the effects of that,” said Balkcom. “Yeah, we may be able to plant and get up a solid stand now and patch in and plant some more but the problem is, it’s the end of June so we missed our window right there when we needed some rain. We may have needed some herbicides washed in to give us some protection from weeds and we missed those opportunities.”

The majority of the state is classified as D-0 or abnormally dry. To find out conditions where you live click here.

alabama drought data
alabama drought data

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