What is in this article?:
- Drought tightens grip on Georgia farmers
- Water supplies getting tight
• Most of the state is in severe to extreme drought.
• Crops and livestock across the state are suffering.
Water supplies getting tight
“Water supplies are tightening in Georgia and, unfortunately, a large portion of the corn crop is at the most critical stages of water demand,” Lee said. “It is still dry and very hot. Any stress now guarantees some yield loss depending on the length of the plant stress and its growth stage.”
One-third of the state’s corn crop is in poor to very poor condition, according to a June 13 report by the Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service, or GASS.
“The drought is having a significant negative impact on our cattle industry,” said Curt Lacy, a UGA Extension livestock economist.
Normally, cattle feed off pasture grass during summer. But right now, 70 percent of the state’s pastureland is rated poor to very poor, according to the GASS report. This means there isn’t enough grass for cattle to eat. Cattlemen are feeding baled hay to their herds. It’s costing them, Lacy said.
On average, it costs 50 cents per day to feed a cow on a day when pastures are in good condition. It costs $1.50 per day to maintain that cow with hay during drought conditions.
“And, remember, that during droughts like this, the economic effects persist long after it starts raining again,” Lacy said. “Cows have trouble conceiving or they abort. Cattle are more susceptible to diseases.”
According to the GASS report, one-third of the peanuts in the state are in poor to very poor conditions. Almost half of the cotton crop is in poor to very poor condition.
Just six years on his own as a farmer, Pollock has been hit twice by crippling drought. In 2007, the state — as it is now — was in the grips of record-setting dry weather, which doesn’t seem like that long ago, he said.
“It really is discouraging,” Pollock said. “You put all this hard work and time in to it, and it burns up. … Makes me wonder if I want to keep on trying to do this.”