Help offered for drought- stricken areas

CHARLES TOWN — Lack of substantial rain and high temperatures have created drought conditions in most counties throughout the state, according to the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.

[cleeng_content id="671746802" description="Read it now!" price="0.15"]Jefferson County is in better shape than most counties but that could change if more rain doesn’t hit soon.

Commissioner Gus Douglass said he is prepared to offer help to farmers when they need it.

“I’m asking for information of drought conditions from the Soil Conservation Districts and Farm Service Agencies now. They will evaluate the data and report to me,” said Douglass in a telephone interview last week.

Michael Glenn, the director of the WVU Kearneysville Tree Fruit Research and Education Center, said the biggest problem was the frost.

“I can’t say we’ve documented anything from the heat,” Glenn said. “The apple crop is too early to tell and we don’t have peaches because of the freeze.”

“We’ve had enough thunderstorms so we don’t have much of a moisture problem right now.”

Glenn said in the past two weeks the grass has turned brown throughout the area.

“If we don’t get more rainfall we will be in a drought situation,” he said.

“The shortage of rain is pretty typical of what we are seeing across the entire panhandle,” said Jason Elliott, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling.

Elliott said some rain is expected in the short time, however, “The long range prediction is the drought is going to get worse.”

Douglass said if there are significant water shortages reported in the area he plans to open floodgates at dams such as Patterson Creek.

“We have done this in the past for watering livestock and needs other than human drinking water,” Douglass said.

On Tuesday, Buddy Davidson spokesman for the DOA said nothing has been decided on the floodgates yet.

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows all of West Virginia as being abnormally dry.

On Tuesday, Cam Tabb from Leetown said Jefferson County is the best at this point in time than it has been in the past 20 years.

“It has been like we’ve ordered rain when we needed it and it rained,” Tabb said. “Most of the corn is pollinated. Now is the time we need more water.”

Tabb said the hay crop has rendered a good quality and yield as well,

The first week of July was a record-setting week for the state with temperatures soaring above the 100-degree mark at several locations.

The state average temperature was 80 degrees for only the second time since 2007, the USDA reported.

Between July 17 and 21, the National Weather Services shows between 60 and 70 percent above-normal temperatures throughout the state.

SIDEBAR

Drought has impact on corn, cattle market

Nationally the main corn- producing states, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Colorado, Nebraska and Missouri are extremely dry, according to extension agent Brian Wickline.

Wickline said Iowa is in a little better shape than the other states, but is dryer than normal.

“Illinois and Indiana are really dry,” said Wickline.

The drought has driven up the corn market at least 15 percent within the past couple weeks, according to Wickline.

“In turn that has driven the cattle market down. Beef is off 20 cents compared to a month ago,” Wickline said.

This year’s drought ranks among the 10 largest in the lower 48 states, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

Preliminary data shows that 54.6 percent of the contiguous 48 state was in drought at the end of June, which is the highest percentage since December 1956, and the sixth-highest peak percentage on record.

The NCDC reports that the overall 2012 drought now covers more territory than any drought since the 1950s, ranking it as the 10th largest severe drought since 1895.

And with July typically being the hottest month of the year, the drought may yet worsen. Among the top 10 largest “severe” droughts on record, five of them peaked in the months of July and August.

 

Drought has impact on corn, cattle market

Nationally the main corn- producing states –Iowa–Indiana–Illinois–Colorado–Nebraska and Missouri– are extremely dry, according to extension agent Brian Wickline.

Wickline said Iowa is in a little better shape than the other states, but is dryer than normal.

“Illinois and Indiana are really dry,” said Wickline.

The drought has driven up the corn market at least 15 percent within the past couple weeks, according to Wickline.

“In turn that has driven the cattle market down. Beef is off 20 cents compared to a month ago,” Wickline said.

This year’s drought ranks among the 10 largest in the lower 48 states, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

Preliminary data shows that 54.6 percent of the contiguous 48 state was in drought at the end of June, which is the highest percentage since December 1956, and the sixth-highest peak percentage on record.

The NCDC reports that the overall 2012 drought now covers more territory than any drought since the 1950s, ranking it as the 10th largest severe drought since 1895.

And with July typically being the hottest month of the year, the drought may yet worsen. Among the top 10 largest “severe” droughts on record, five of them peaked in the months of July and August.[/cleeng_content]

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