Corn farmers feeling the heat this summer
by Marie Nesmith
Jul 28, 2012 | 1370 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Allen Evans’ cornfield near Euharlee shows the impact of the Bartow’s dry weather conditions.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Allen Evans’ cornfield near Euharlee shows the impact of the Bartow’s dry weather conditions. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Like other farmers across the nation, a lack of rain and sweltering temperatures are taking a toll on Allen Evans’ corn production.

“[The] corn [that] hasn’t had any water or anything, I don’t know what the [exact] damage [is] but I would guess and say well over 50 percent and some [are faring] even worse,” said Evans, who grows dryland and irrigated corn on 450 acres near Euharlee. “It just depends on who got rain and who didn’t. ... Between the heat and no rain, and I’m just guessing but, some of the corn is just a total loss.

“Then you’ll pick up some and some will [be fine]. It’s really hard to tell [until] you get out there in it. But it’s obvious, you can tell by looking it’s just hurt. It wasn’t going to meet it’s potential. ... I just wish this hot weather would cool off a little bit and we’d get some rain. I think everybody’s wishing that.”

For local farmers, Bartow County Extension Coordinator Paul Pugliese said the weather conditions also are resulting in smaller yields for some crops, including corn.

“The recent rain that we’ve had helped us a little bit. It’s kept us out of a drought declaration as far as our county being designated by the [U.S. Department of Agriculture] — it’s a USDA drought disaster declaration,” Pugliese said. “We’re right on the edge, literally. There’s 142 counties in Georgia that have been declared a drought disaster by USDA. Everything south of Bartow County basically is under that declaration at this point in time.

“And, of course, we’re still at about an 8- to 10-inch deficit across most of Bartow County as far as rainfall on the year. ... The biggest crop that’s been affected so far in Bartow County is corn. We have about 2,000 acres of corn production in Bartow County. A lot of it is under irrigation and, of course, the corn that is under irrigation looks fine at this point. It’s doing very well. But that corn that’s dryland and is not being irrigated is pretty much a total loss at this point. Hopefully, those farmers do have crop insurance [and] at some point that they’ll be able to recover some of their losses on that dryland corn.”

With corn yields being affected across the nation, Pugliese said shoppers could notice an increase in the grocery store for beef, chicken and dairy products. His prediction echoes a USDA report that was released Wednesday, forecasting grocery prices to increase 3 percent to 4 percent in 2013.

“With less corn being produced both locally and nationwide, that’s going to drive up the costs of feeding [animals],” Pugliese said, referring to cattle and poultry. “In the Midwest, a lot of farmers are selling off their cattle just to be able to keep them fed at this point because there isn’t enough corn to go around. It’s still really early to say how much of an impact [it will be].

“We can’t really put our finger on that until probably closer toward the end of the fall or later in the year. But it’s going to affect everybody nationwide because we don’t get all of our food from Bartow County. If you live in Bartow County, you get stuff at the grocery store that comes from all over the nation. So it affects everybody and every grocery store in every state pretty much equally. It doesn’t matter if your food is local or not because most of our meats and cheeses and dairies are not coming directly from just Bartow County.”