High Heat, Low Precipitation Affect Crop Production

By: Morgan Demmel Email
By: Morgan Demmel Email

The mild winter and spring weather allowed farmers across the state to get a head start on planting this year, but those same weather patterns are now bringing some complications.

Zach Hunnicutt says this spring, farmers started planting as early as three to four weeks ahead of schedule. But then they ran into a few issues.

"Once we got into the field, it didn't rain. We didn't see any moisture for awhile," Hunnicutt says.

Mike Moritz, Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service says that's still the case, with abnormally hot, dry weather so far this summer.

Those drought-like conditions have forced farmers to make some changes.

"We had crops really shoot up quick with all the heat we had," Hunnicutt says.

But that also forced them to start running their pivots earlier than usual.

That increase in irrigation means higher costs for farmers, but Hunnicutt says those costs aren't expected to be passed along to consumers.

"It shouldn't be a long term effect," Hunnicutt says.

He says it's just an added cost farmers will have to endure, likely for the remainder of the summer.

Moritz says farmers shouldn't expect relief from mother nature anytime soon, with temperatures remaining at or above normal for the rest of the summer.

He says temperatures have been, on average, four to seven degrees above normal since April, with about half the average precipitation.

"I wouldn't look for any drastic increase in precipitation trends in this area anytime soon," Moritz says.

But farmers don't think it'll make a significant impact on their yields.

"It's been a challenging year, but hopefully it's shaping up to be a good one," Hunnicutt says.

Farmers say the growing popularity of technology that allows them to measure soil moisture has helped them better time their irrigation, so they're able to be responsible with resources while also keeping an eye on their bottom line.

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