Drought & Heat Threaten Alabama’s Corn Crop

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With the current drought and extreme heat for nearly the entire upper two-thirds of Alabama, farmers are in need of rain. Dry weather conditions are causing many local farmers to worry about whether their corn crop will make it.

"Who it's going to certainly affect, probably the most, are the growers," says Kenneth Creel, Regional Extension Agent with the Madison County Farmer’s Cooperative.

"Those that have irrigation are going to be alright. It's just going to be an added expense and prices are low.  So either way, it's not going to be very profitable for these farmers who are growing corn this year."

Creel says the corn that was planted in the spring will be just fine, but any corn planted this summer may be in jeopardy.

“Late corn is going to struggle. Last week was the pollination period for the late corn that late corn already looks like it would in July or so, where they're starting to look dry and ragged."

If the farmers are fortunate enough to have an irrigation system, they will have to continue to pay the high diesel costs in order to salvage the corn. Otherwise, they just have to hope Mother Nature will bring rain soon.

"It sounds bad, but you almost wish a tropical depression would come through and bring us some water this way," says Madison County farmer Robert White.

White says tomatoes are his main cash crop, but he has been selling the red fruits and his corn harvests at Brook's Farmers Market in Huntsville for about five years.

White says if the dry spell continues in north Alabama, late season corn spottings at the market this year may be few and far between. He says the lack of moisture will certainly affect his bottom line this growing season.

"Yes, my income will be affected," say White, "But you just have to hop for the best and keep moving forward."

On Monday the regional highs hit 103 degrees in Tuscaloosa, 102 in Muscle Shoals and Huntsville, 100 in Decatur and 98 in Birmingham. Highs dropped back into the mid-90s Tuesday, but more triple-digit heat is expected toward the end of the week.

Tropical storm Debby has been deluging the Gulf Coast of Florida with rain, but Debby is unlikely to move north into Alabama, according to the National Hurricane Center.