MT. VERNON — — Extreme temperatures and drought conditions have local farmers worried. Rick Corners, president of the Jefferson County Farm Bureau, said he has been in the farming business for more than 40 years and this is the worst drought he can remember. “It’s a disaster. I have never seen a drought this early in the growing season,” Corners said. Corners said many of the farmers had hoped corn that had been planted late would do better than the early corn, but because there has been no rainfall, he said the yield has been drastically reduced, going as far as saying it may be a total loss. He added the soy bean crop may be salvageable, but that also depends on whether it rains or not. Corners said farmers are going to have to depend on crop insurance this year to help with the losses. Livestock farmers are also affected by the drought, which Corners said may be worse for them because livestock farmers don’t have crop insurance to help offset losses. “They don’t have any kind of insurance and its going to be devastating on the livestock people,” he said. It is hard to predict what kind of losses farmers are looking at, Corners explained, because he has never dealt with a drought like this before. Donnie Laird, a local farmer from Waltonville and a member of the Jefferson County Farm Bureau said right now, everything is “a mess.” He said cattle farmers are already feeding livestock from their winter hay reserves because there is not a lot of food. The trees are dying, there is hardly any grain and the corn crop will be “pretty dismal.” “If we don’t get any rain this week, it’s going to be a bad situation,” Laird said. “Everything is basically dying, it’s just in survival mode right now. The cattle is not doing so well. If they have good shade and good clean drinking water they will be all right.” He added that many cattle farmers are sending their cattle to the market because they are running out of feed and there is not enough corn coming in from the harvest to put in silos for cattle feed. “It’s a really dismal situation,” Laird said. “It’s going to trickle down and affect everyone. It will affect bee and cattle prices and food prices. It’s going to be pretty tough on a lot of guys and it’s going to be a long time turning this around.” Chris Bunting, manager of the Jefferson and Hamilton County farm bureau’s, said the last rainfall in June was spotty at best. The corn which was planted early because of good weather in April and May has not done as well as hoped and the corn planted later is not getting enough water. “We are quite a few inches below average. The corn needs a lot of rain and moisture to produce tasseling and right now there is too much stress on the corn during the day to tassle properly,” Bunting said. The leaves on the corn plants roll up tight as a defense mechanism against the heat, to hold in moisture, Bunting said. It is better at night when it is cooler, but the extreme heat is hurting corn yields. He estimated that about 50 to 60 percent of corn yields this year would be lost as a result of the drought. Bunting said the rain would help, but would probably not make much of a difference at this point. He did say farmers who grow beans may have a better chance of getting a good yield, because they are a little “heartier” than corn. He also said the heat is not helping livestock because the drinking and cooling ponds cattle farmers use are drying up in the extreme weather. “There are a lot of farmers comparing this year to ‘83. That was the last time they has hot and dry conditions like this,” Bunting said. “There is not much a farmer can do to combat this. We are at the mercy of the weather. Crop insurance obviously is going to be important this year.” Information sent out from the Illinois Farm Service Agency stated producers should report crop losses resulting from a weather-related disaster event. This includes crops covered by crop insurance, the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program and crops without insurance coverage. “Crop losses are acres that were planted with the intent to harvest, but the crop failed and could not be harvested because of a disaster related condition,” states Scherrie Giamanco, FSA State executive director, in a press release. “In order to meet FSA program eligibility requirements, producers must report failed acreage to their county FSA office before disposition of the crop. Prevented planted acreage must be reported to their county FSA office within 15 days of the final planting for the applicable crop.” For questions regarding crop losses, contact the Jefferson County FSA at 244-0773 ext. 2.
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