Record rainfall in July may have saved some local farmers -- earlier this summer, farmers all across the Tri-Cities were praying for rain. Some hadn't seen a drop in weeks. But that changed in July and that rain helped crops bounce back.
You've probably noticed some of the damage from record temps and dry conditions just driving by corn fields. Crops haven't been nearly as sky high as they should be and that's where farmers are seeing the most damage.
News 5 checked with the Sullivan County Extension Office and learned October is usually the driest month of the year. But this rainy July has really put farmers in good shape compared to past years.
Each bale sitting in a stack of hay gives Sullivan County farmer Tony Slaughter a sense of relief. Tthis summer didn't start off too well with the high temperatures and dry conditions. "Our grass started off very well and then when we got into the drought period, many of us farmers had to feed hay during the month of June," he said.
But 25 out of 31 days in July were rainy, which solved those problems and Slaughter says he's been able to make his third cutting of hay. There have even been some surprises as fall approaches. "The rain also has brought us a great fall grass situation. So perhaps we'll be able to graze a little bit longer," Slaughter explained.
Just over in Washington County, Virginia all that rain has been a blessing for dairy farmer Sam Rock. "The second hay crop is going to probably be as good as the first one with all this rain. We're going to be in pretty good shape on hay, but we're going to be about 75 percent on corn," said Rock.
Without the rain Rock says he wouldn't have been able to sell some of his corn at farmer's markets. But it's not the corn you and I eat he's worrying about. "A lot of our corn was about four to five feet tall, it had a good ear on it but it didn't have any fodder to it," he said.
That's what Rock usually stores in silos and combined with hay, it's what helps him feed cattle and other animals during the winter. Rock says he'll have just enough to get by and while he's had to sell some cattle, he's thankful for one thing. "If we hadn't got this rain in July we would have been cooked. I mean corn wouldn't have been waist high, we wouldn't have had any silage," he added.
Back in June, the Washington County Virginia Extension Office had plans on asking for money to help farmers by requesting a disaster declaration. Extension Agent Phil Blevins says there is no longer a need and most farmers did not have to rely on their winter feed supply early in the year.