Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Drought damages Tennessee farming industry

Clarksville Leaf Chronicle (Tennessee): No industry is more profoundly affected by the weather than agriculture. In 2007, farmers here battled some of the worst elements in Mother Nature's arsenal. Chiefly, it was a year of record drought and relentless triple-digit heat in mid- to late-summer, causing many to wonder if the scientific community's warnings about global climate change are coming true.

One thing's for sure: Another year like 2007 could force many local food producers out of business. "2007 was not kind to the farmers in Montgomery County," said local Agricultural Extension Agent John Bartee. "Crop yields were sharply lower than average," he said.

Estimated yields for the year are:

  • Corn — 128 bushels per acre, down 28 bushels from last year. Input costs were up 18 percent from last year.
  • Wheat — Over 50 percent of the wheat crop was cut for hay instead of harvested for grain. The acres that were harvested averaged about 35 bushels per acre.
  • Soybeans — About 20 percent of the beans were harvested for hay because of projected low yields. Another 10 percent of the double-crop beans were not harvested because they didn't grow enough. The remainder of the crop that was harvested yielded 16 bushels per acre, down from last year's average of 48 bushels per acre.
  • Pastures and hay — These were severely damaged, resulting in one-third of the cow herd in the county being sold off for lack of feed…

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