Drought conditions affecting local farmers | WJHL
BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Farmers Roy and Linda Doan have been feeling the effects of drought the past few months.
Linda runs a cut flower business called Aunt Willie’s Wildflowers. As she prepares for the coming seasons, she is reminded that she is not the only one feeling the effects of the weather.
“The deer came in the last week or two of the season and ate every (dahlia) bud,” Linda said. “I think it was dry enough that they didn’t have anything else and those buds were looking good, because deer aren’t supposed to like dahlias.”
She grades her dahlia tubers, which is a slightly more difficult process. Even the tubers show signs of dry weather.
“Now, when we dig (dahlia tubers), the ground is very dry, and the tubers pop up easily, but dirt falls off them,” Linda said. “And when you store dahlias, it’s best to store them in this nice heavy clay, but they fell out of the tubers because they were too dry.”
The spring plants were grown in a greenhouse that had a drip tape installed, making them more efficient in watering. Without rainfall, field crops must be watered by hand. Linda said they have their own well. If they were on city water, it would cost more money for the water plants.
The Doans planted cover crops such as crimson, clover and rye two and a half months ago. They want to reclaim the soil of the land they planted and use the crop as filler material for the bouquet. These plants were supposed to sprout by now, but they did not sprout with no rain. They hope these plants will eventually sprout, otherwise they will have to replant them.
Cherry Hill Pastures cattle are hungry. They feed only on grass, and with no rain, pasture rotation has been difficult. Roy had to sell some of his cattle earlier than he usually does.
“I may have to wean some of the calves off the cows because if I wean them, the calves won’t eat as much as the cows,” Roy said. “Then, if the cows don’t lactate and dry off, they don’t need as much feed to keep them in good condition over the winter.”
Selling livestock may not stop there, as Roy said he may have to sell more during the winter. Calf crop sales bring in more money in the spring than in the fall.
Roy usually starts feeding the cattle hay in the winter, but they got that done earlier this year as well. The local distributor is paid $50 to $60 per row of hay. Purchasing from a source may cost $100 respectively.
“Especially when it’s an all-grass operation, you’re relying on rain, because you want that grass to grow back and you want to have it as long as possible during the year,” Roy said. “Every day I can go without feeding hay is a little extra profit.”
As is the case with many farmers in the area, the lack of rain is costing the Doan family more now and could have future implications for the business as well.