Cotton, soybeans and peanuts are in desperate need for rainfall and there is no significant rain in sight.
Farmers are hurting now and that pain will only increase if the rain continues to hold off in certain areas of Clarendon County.
“Most of the area’s corn was planted early and won’t be impacted as much as other crops,” said Area Agronomist Jacob Stokes with Clemson Extension Service. “Soybeans and cotton need rain. The drought is starting to impact their yields.”
Stokes said the earlier the corn was planted the better the yields and that late-planted corn would feel the impact of the drought conditions as well.
More and more farmers are turning to irrigation systems to keep their crops healthy.
“It’s pretty pricy, but when you compare it with the price of grain or soybeans or corn, it’s worth the expense,” Stokes said. “You can definitely see the difference in the yields.”
According to Stokes, the sale price of soybeans, corn and peanuts should be higher than normal. The price of cotton was up last year; however, it came back down and leveled off, he said.
Several farmers are now planting sorghum and the sale price for that grain is expected to be higher than last year.
“It’s a dire time right now,” Stokes added. “Cotton, peanuts and soybeans need rain weekly with at least one inch of rain every week.”
Another week with high temperatures and no rain will begin impacting the yield potential on several crops, Stokes said.
“Cotton may be more drought tolerant, but another week with no rain and farmers will begin to lose yield potential,” he said. “Farmers need rain very soon.”
Harry DuRant with Double D Farms in Gable was on a combine cutting corn Tuesday afternoon.
“About one-half to one-third of our corn yield will be excellent,” DuRant said. “At the tail end of our harvest, it will hurt.”
While 120 to 130 bushels per acre is considered good, DuRant said he would only be harvesting about 55 bushels per acre toward the end of his harvest.
“Lack of rain has hurt us really bad,” DuRant said. “It took three months to plant the corn and the crop was excellent to start around June 10 or 11 and then we only got seven-tenths of an inch of rain over the next month.”
DuRant said the rain his crops have received has been spotty at best.
“We had rain two weeks ago,” he said. “Now, we’ve been two weeks with no rain.”
DuRant was quick to add that some farmers have been getting sufficient rain on a regular basis.
“Some farmers will get 130 to 150 bushels per acre,” he said. “They’re getting the yield because they got the rain.”
The bull’s eye for the worst of the drought seems to be New Zion, DuRant said.
“The Turbeville area which is only five miles away is doing fine, but here in the New Zion and Gable areas, we’re hurting,” he said. “We need rain right away.”
DuRant said he was talking to another farmer recently about 15 to 20 years ago when it seemed like farmers could count on rain falling across a wider area in inches; but, now it only seems to fall in pockets.
“You live with what you get,” he said stoically.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), portions of Clarendon County are in a D1-Moderate drought condition. NOAA is predicting that the current drought will be ongoing for the next three months with only some improvement.
The shorter-range forecasts for rain aren’t any better with 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks predicting the chance of rain for Clarendon County at 33 to 40 percent below normal. While the chances of significant rainfall are slim, the temperatures are on the opposite end of the spectrum with temperatures over the same time period predicted to be 40 to 50 percent above normal. The 10-day forecast on a midlands television station calls for temperatures to range from 98 degrees on Wednesday to the century mark on Friday and Saturday with temperatures dropping to 91 degrees by Aug. 1. During the same ten days, rainfall is predicted to be scattered and isolated with thunderstorms possible.