The continued drought throughout the Wiregrass region is drying up profits for local farmers.
Wiregrass extension officials say this is the worst it's ever been.
The total rainfall deficit for the region is 31 inches. Normally, the area sees 56 inches of rain per year.
Alabama’s ponds, creeks and rivers are slowly drying up, creating multiple financial problems for farmers.
Rickey Hudson, with the Research and Extension Service said, “On a short term basis, hauling in water, which can be very expensive [with] transportation costs until the can rectify the problem, may be more long term with a well.”
Less rain is causing farmers to spend more money to feed their livestock.
“Lack of rainfall in turn decreased grass production,” said Kris Balkcom, also with the Research and Extension Service. “It's forced some of the guys to buy more hay where they generally get four cut a year.”
You've been hearing about the effects of the drought for quite a while, so why is it even more of an issue now? Because historically, October is the driest month of the year, creating a critical decision point for farmers.
Hay production is down by over 60 percent, creating a shortage of feed. Farmers must decide if they want to take a chance and hope that more rain will fall or sell a large portion of their cattle now so they will have enough feed to go around.
Some farmers have been forced to sell whole herds at a time.
“Those people having those total dispersals, they're now trying to figure out what they can do as far as getting back into cow production and when,” Balkcom added. “As of right now, they really don't know that.”
For now, everyone is looking to the sky and hoping for some rain.
Wiregrass Extension officials tell us winter feeding alone represents 65 percent of the cost of cow calf production.
Due to low rainfall levels, farmers are only getting 1-to-2 cuts of grass per year, compared to 4-to-5 cuts during pre-drought conditions.