Can you believe we’re already on the second week of August? Classes for kids here in Tennessee have already begun and my University classes start in a few short weeks. But for now, I’m actually headed home to Arkansas for a few days. I’ll get a hands-on look at some of the worst drought seen in my parents’ lifetimes.
As we move in to late summer, early fall, this is normally a drier part of the year with some of the highest average daily temperatures. This year’s drought has only complicated things, and we’re really not sure what normal is anymore.
Drought Monitor updates for August 9
The drought continues to worsen in my home-state of Arkansas. Exceptional drought now covers over 53% of the state; Extreme drought covering nearly 81%.
Drought conditions here in Tennessee have greatly improved with only a third of the state covered in Moderate or worse drought, 12.45% of that is Extreme or Exceptional drought.
View more of my stories about the 2012 drought on this blog (Link)
Tennessee receives rain, but drought effects on corn persist
Here in Tennessee, we’ve been blessed with 10 or more inches of rain in the last month across much of the state. That has moved many of us out of the most severe drought, but worse conditions continue to hang on in the Mississippi River Delta.
Even though we seem to be past the worst part of the drought in Middle Tennessee, the impact still remains. This is especially visible in much of the corn crop. I visited Lincoln and Franklin County, along the Alabama state line, this past weekend, only to discover brown corn fields. Many farmers have mowed down corn crops, baling the roughage for livestock hay.
The fields that will be used for corn silage will be lower quality and even lower yields. This will force many beef and dairy farmers to supplement with other high-quality feeds, increasing their cost of production. This will especially be evident in dairy production, with a possible decrease in milk quality/quantity and cost. This may remain until the next crops are harvested.
Here is a photo of what corn looks like in Southern Tennessee. On the left is an ear of corn from an irrigated field. This farmer was lucky that the corn pollenated in the extreme heat. Even in some irrigated fields there are very few kernels on the ear.
The ear of corn on the right is from a dry land field (non-irrigated). There is great variation within fields, so it’s very difficult to predict what yields may be. One thing for certain, they will be well below average for more fields.
One blessings the late rains brought to fields in Tennessee, was the ability for the kernels to fill out. Before it rained, the corn was drying out, meaning it would need to be harvest earlier. But the moisture has allowed farmers to leave the corn in the field and hopefully improve quality to some extent.
Here’s a few close looks at the corn fields here in Middle Tennessee.