Farmers Are Watching Their Crops Wither

Houston County has been declared a disaster area because of severe drought. While recent rainfall has helped in some areas, others are still waiting to see if they will have any crop yields at all.

Most farmers have lost all of their crops if they did not have irrigation systems in place. The recent rain watered some local fields, but farmers say most of their crops are too far gone for rainfall to make a difference.

Many local farmers are watching their crops wither away more each day because of the lack of rain. Last week rain fell in several areas and farmers say that while it helped some, it just wasn't enough to bring all the crops back to life.

"Every rain helps to an extent, but it doesn't cure the problem. We have some crops that it will help, but like cotton will respond," said David Bell, a Houston County farmer.

The recent hit and miss showers have given some fields in the wiregrass the moisture they need to prosper, but other areas are still waiting for relief.

"If the rain fell two weeks ago and then again last week, they’re in good shape. Shortfalls are in Cottonwood and Rehobeth and if expand you'll find areas of Geneva suffering," said William Durr of the Houston County Extension Office.

Farmers do have programs to help assist them in times of drought, but the programs only offer enough monetary compensation to keep them afloat.

"We got crop insurance. We don't make money, but it helps to satisfy our debts until we can do something," said Bell.

The Houston County Extension Office estimates this year’s yields to be about 50 percent behind yields during a good year with average rainfall.

The government has declared Houston County a disaster area, but farmers say the problem is they just aren't qualifying for these low-rate loans. They are asked to prove they have a way to pay back the money, and most farmers just don't have those kinds of assets after this drought and with the equipment they buy to keep their fields running.

If you would like to help support local farmers you can buy their produce. A farmer's market is held in front of the Houston County farm center each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 6 in the morning until noon. And on Friday’s, they're open for business from 3 in the afternoon until 7.