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Drought Hitting Farmers in Pocketbook

May 31st, 2007 by Mike Vasilinda

2007 is poised to be the driest year on record. Rainfall across north Florida is more than 13 inches below normal. Many farmers are foregoing planting crops until it rains, and as Mike Vasilinda reports, those who have planted corn or other crops face big losses.

The earth is cracked at what used to be the bottom of this livestock pond. Fields are dry and there is little if any grass left for cattle to eat. Some fields have been plowed, but farmers are waiting for rain before sowing cotton, peanuts or soy. Agricultural official Patricia Sorensen says the clock is running out on this planting season.

On corn, I think its too late to plant. Soybeans and peanuts, I dont think its too late.. or cotton but the time is running out. This corn is dying. And in fields like this where theres no irrigation, if it doesnt rain soon, this corn is going to be gone.

Today was the deadline for planting peanuts. The clock runs out on Cotton June 10th,
Soybeans – June 15 and Grain Sorghum, around June 10th in Jefferson County.

Mac Finlayson is a sixth generation farmer. This is the driest hes ever seen it.
Its rough right now. Were looking for some rain at the end of the tunnel instead of some light

Mac is feeding his cattle expensive and hard to find hay. Grass that his cattle would normally be eating at this time of year is non existent. Our expenses are probably up 50% for this time of year over what they would be in a normal year.

The higher costs mean smaller profits and eventually, smaller crop yields could raise prices at the supermarket, but for now, the impact will be mostly felt in the local economy.

Timber farmers across North Florida are also afraid the drought will aggravate the wildfire season and wipe out a crop that takes years to grow.

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