Ag. Department Commissioner Steve Troxler’s “From the Tractor” (July Edition)

    by North Carolina’s Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler from his July column “From the Tractor” for the department’s monthly newsletter the Agricultural Review:

    Like a lot of farmers, I have been paying especially close attention to the N.C. Drought Monitor and weather forecasts as the temperatures have climbed and rainfall has become more limited. And, like many people, I have been praying for rain because we desperately need some across most areas of the state.

    As of June 18, the N.C. Drought Management Advisory Council listed 67 counties as abnormally dry, including pretty much all of Eastern North Carolina and a two-to-three- county-wide path along the Virginia border from the coast to the Northern mountains around Boone.

    I am hearing from a lot of farmers about the corn crop in particular, and that they are likely looking at the potential for significant losses for corn.

    The latest crop condition statistics published on July 24 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service confirms what I am hearing, with 17% of corn being described as in very poor condition, 38% in poor condition and 21% in fair condition. Only 23% was reported as in good condition.

    Every farmer knows a lot can change in a week. Just the week prior, 10% and 13% of corn was listed as being in very poor and poor condition. And 25% was described as fair, with 49% listed as good.

    The Crops and Condition Report also is showing the drought’s effect on other crops, too. Cotton, hay, pastures, peanuts, sorghum, soybeans, sweet potatoes and flue cured tobacco also posted a greater percentage of crops being in the very poor to fair range than in the good range.

    We still have a lot more season to go and I pray we get some well-timed rain to help these crops be productive.

    When our farmers hurt, we all hurt because their hard work feeds us all. Please keep our farmers in your prayers and support local growers by buying local wherever you can. Farmers markets, roadside stands and retail stores are offering lots of local produce and proteins. Look for the Got to Be NC logo where you shop. I’ll keep readers updated as the growing season goes on.