Panhandle Farmers Up Against Extreme Drought

By: Bryan Anderson Email
By: Bryan Anderson Email

Greenwood- Each day without rain is causing more hardship for farmers in the Panhandle. With some crops only weeks away from harvest, time is running out on their battle with drought.

"All you can do is just sit and wait and hope," said Larry Ford, a farmer in Greenwood. Ford has been a farmer for 41 years, and on Wednesday afternoon he was preparing to plant his farm in Greenwood. He said he’s using double the amount of fuel to irrigate his crops enough to give them a fighting chance. "You're putting out an inch to an inch and a half, so that would run in the neighborhood of twelve to fifteen dollars an acre," said Ford.

Jackson County's two main crops are cotton and peanuts. Farmers usually plant them in late April or early May, but they're struggling in this dry, hot weather. Also, to qualify for federal crop insurance, farmers have to plant in the next three weeks. If they experience total crop loss, the insurance would cover their basic needs, like mortgage payments.

But, experts said major crop losses could cripple Jackson County's economy. "When you look at the whole county there's about a $130 million dollar output from agriculture and all the industry that supports it. So if the farmers have a bad year, everybody else does too," said Doug Mayo, Jackson County Extension Agent. Farmers said they could lose as much as 75 percent of their crops if they don’t receive significant rainfall by July or August.

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