On Friday, July 6, University of Tennessee Extension launched a new effort to assist the state’s farmers and ranchers as they respond to the historic hot and dry weather.

Information is available for homeowners, too.

This year’s unusually hot and dry weather is causing the state’s crops to wither and turning pastures to dust plots. The impacts are already far-reaching, with estimated drastic reductions in harvests and especially in feed available for livestock this fall.

In response to the public’s need for timely information, UT Extension has collected and cross-linked existing drought- and heat-related informational resources on a public access website.  

Farmers will have direct access online to information that can help them make the critical and sometimes heart-wrenching decisions necessary to keep their operations and families financially viable. The information available is specific to Tennessee production systems.

The website, https://utextension.tennessee.edu/drought/, will be available to the public on a 24-hour basis. There is no charge to access the information online.

Justin Rhinehart, UT Extension beef cattle specialist, is coordinating the effort, which includes livestock specialists, plant and pest specialists, veterinarians, family science experts, environmental engineers, horticulturists, and forestry and wildlife experts from across the state.

Additional links are provided to resources available from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, including a hay directory for producers struggling to provide feed for livestock.

The information collected on the pages is also relevant for everyday citizens and homeowners.

“Some of the linked information includes tips on reducing power usage during extreme heat and lawn and garden management during drought,” Rhinehart said. “There are even links relevant to working with kids and heat stress in the elderly.”
Rhinehart is also coordinating a series of livestock producer meetings to assist with the increasing dire situation of the state’s forage and pastures.

Two meetings will be held in each of the grand divisions of the state:

• Middle Tennessee

July 17, 5:30-9:00 p.m., Tennessee Farm Bureau Bldg., Columbia.

July 19, 5:30-9:00 p.m., Wilson County Fairgrounds, Lebanon.

• West Tennessee

July 27, 5:30-9:00 p.m., UT Extension Western Region Office, Jackson.

July 28, 9:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Brehm Hall, UT Martin.

• East Tennessee
Aug. 2, 5:30-9:00 p.m., East Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center, Greeneville.

Aug. 3, 9:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m., UT Extension Eastern Region Office, Knoxville.