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Drought in the Panhandle

As I am sure most people have noticed, it’s a little dry lately! Most of our large farms are turning to irrigation for crops they already have planted and others are hoping for rain in order for the seeds their planting to grow. Drought has been a major issue decreasing production over the past several years and this year doesn’t look to be much different. While we can’t guess when it will ran here at the Extension Office, we can offer a few helpful tips to help you manage production in dry weather:

– Stockpile when possible- If you have the capacity to stock pile feed products, hay, fertilizer, and other farm essentials when you find a good price, buy it now! Anytime we have drought weather the price of basic products will go up. If you can save money by buying in bulk or stockpiling when its cheaper, you will see a return on your initial purchase.

– Make sure you water and water smart- There is almost no heartache like losing a beautiful crop to dry weather. If you can justify irrigating a crop, whether large or small, it can help reduce significant crop loss. If you water, water smart. Run irrigation during the coolest part of the day or night. Make sure you don’t have leaks or nozzles that don’t work. Running a quick test can’t save you a lot of time cleaning up a problem or losing crops to over watering.

– Drought and heat can kill- Animals should be monitored carefully for signs of heat stress. With decreased forages and loss of water coming from a grass crop, animals will need access to unlimited clean, fresh water. Now is a good time to clean tanks, check floats, and make sure everything is in working order.

-Don’t be afraid to make a long term investment- While its easy for me to say buy it when it’s not my own money, investing in irrigation or other ways to decrease the likelihood of total crop failure can pay off in the long term. Do some number crunching and find out what equipment or strategy may be worth it in the long term. We have a great project going on at the research center in Jay on various types of irrigation and can help answer all your questions.

Last, but not least, check out this article if you are interested in a disaster loan or need assistance because of a drought related crop failure. Good luck this season!

http://www.northescambia.com/2012/04/drought-continues-federal-disaster-loans-available

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