KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – A lack of rainfall and extreme late summer heat has created incredibly dry conditions across portions of the state, causing the governor to issue a burn ban last week. However, livestock producers are now starting to feel the impact.
Jeremy Grant is a fourth-generation farmer who works about 600 acres of land in Kanawha and Mason county.
“We work . . . beef cattle predominately, and then we do have some corn, soybeans down in Mason County. Alfalfa and some other hay crops as well,” said Grant.
However, things have been tough this year for ag producers, as portions of the state have been suffering from severe to moderate drought conditions.
“. . . so we went from the wettest September last year to the driest we have seen in last ten years,” said Grant with a chuckle.
The farmer said last year the grass in his field was green, luscious and about knee-high, but this year it is brown and ankle-high.
“We got a little sprinkle this morning, but I think a heavy dew would have done more good,” said Grant.
The USDA’s crop progress report says about 60 percent of the pasture land is in poor to fair condition, compared to about 40 percent last year, and Grant says the conditions might start causing some livestock producers to buy hay early.
“Typically it’s in December before we start feeding hay out here. It looks like it is going to be October, November this year. . . we are going to run out of grass. We are going to run out of pasture,” said Grant.
He also said some livestock producers might have to start hauling in water, due to local water sources drying up.
“Other folks around the state I know are hauling water. That becomes a real challenge when a cow drinks 20, 25 gallons of water a day,” said Grant.
The West Virginia Department of Agriculture recently issued a press release on tips for livestock producers experiencing drought conditions.
One of the things they are notifying producers of is a water tank cost-share program through the state’s conservation agency.
“I would definitely encourage folks of those programs that are out there, and if they have the opportunity and need it to please apply,” said Grant.
He also says he is currently doing okay on water and hay, but if another producer needs assistance he will be there for them.
Crescent Gallagher, West Virginia Department of Agriculture Communications Director, said they are currently working with WVU Extension Service and the FSA to monitor the situation, and a few counties in the state are experiencing D-1 drought conditions, but it has to reach a D-3 category before federal agencies will step in.