Drought impacting local farmers

HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) – “You can go as deep as you want to go, but there’s absolutely no moisture in this ground,” Bill Perry says on Thursday.

That’s a problem for getting the ground ready for strawberries.

It’s what Perry says he’d normally be doing, but this year has been different.

“We’re about 3 weeks behind now, just because it’s so dry,” he says.

Perry is a partner in Smith-Perry Berries.

In addition to strawberries, they also grow pumpkins, and with the conditions outside they’ve just had to deal with it.

“We irrigate the pumpkins, and we’re spending a lot of money trying to keep them alive, to get through the end of the year, just to get the water to them, because we’re not getting any rain,” Perry says.

He is not alone.

Other farmers News 12 spoke with say the drought is drying up ponds and pastures.

That’s impacting livestock, water and feed.

“The pastures are drying out, so they have to feed the hay that they cut previously, and that may leave them short in the winter time. So there could be some ramifications all the way like I said to spring,” UT-Hamilton County Extension Agent Tom Stebbins says.

Southeast Tennessee is experiencing a drought.

Some places are dealing with moderate drought.

Others areas are experiencing severe drought or extreme drought.

“This is the first year that I’ve, in the last three years I guess, that we’ve had this much, this dry of weather,” Stebbins says.

Stebbins says while you may not see the impacts at the market, it doesn’t mean local farmers aren’t taking a hit.

He says that’s something people should know.

“They should know that when they’re hot and dry, and their yards are dry we see that. We’re getting a lot of calls about lawns are drying out. If that’s the case, that’s their crop and they’re probably going to pay a little more money there. So farmers are hurting. Farmers are hurting right now,” Stebbins says.

“We’re just sitting out here waiting on rain. So if you know anybody that can come out here and do a rain dance we’d like to see them,” Perry says.

Despite the weather, Smith-Perry Berries has still been able to open up their pumpkin patch to the public.

Categories: Featured, Hamilton County, Local News

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