MERIDIANVILLE, Ala. - The timing of northern Alabama's drought this year has been particularly hard on farmers, since the drought peaked during spring. This makes a big difference to the corn crop, which has a small window of time to take in the water it needs to grow. So, although rain did finally come this summer, it was too late for corn.
Steve Tate, a partner at Tate Farms, says they are always prepared to irrigate if the rain doesn't come. It's a 24-hour job to irrigate crops, but as Tate showed us it's well worth it. His irrigated corn is much healthier, with stalks standing around three feet taller than his non-irrigated corn. Tate says a very small percentage of farmers in the Valley irrigate, though. That means most farmers who faced the spring dry spell will be looking at a significant loss in their corn crop.
Rain came too late for corn this year, but other crops proved to be more tolerant of the drought. Cotton and soybeans for instance have a larger window of time to take in water, so the late summer rain we received in August helped make up for the dry spring.
There's no need to worry about pumpkins as we head into fall, either. Not only do pumpkins not need as much water as other crops, but they also grow much faster. Tate Farms put in their pumpkin crop only about two months ago, and they're already on track to see a full crop by the time their pumpkin patch opens on September 26th.