Extension Coordinator Ricky Ensley said row crop production is down while pastures and cattle have been hard hit by the continued dry weather.
Not only is the rain needed, but local farmers would also benefit from another weather reporting station.
The only one in the county is now located at the Cedartown Fire Department.
“A lot of government funding is tied to weather conditions,” Ensley explained. “If we get a lot of rain on the west side of the county and very little on the east, then we only have statistics from one segment of our farming population.”
He said he often draws information from a reporting station at Paulding County High School. However, this data can not be used when seeking funding for agriculture. Only official facts from a county reporting station can be given.
“I would love to see our county with another reporting station,” he added.
“This would prove helpful if we ever have another dry summer with local showers as we have experienced in 2002.”
“We have already met with the Farm Service Agency to determine how much crop reduction we will have,” he said. “We know that cotton, which is still in the fields, is in bad shape. It is in full bowl and the stalks are very low.”
The county has about 2,000 acres planted in cotton with yields at 40 percent of the average harvest.
Usually, a bale of cotton weighs about 408 pounds. This year the total is expected to drop to 390 pounds per bale.
Of the 1,100 acres planted in corn, yields are at 45 percent or 54 bushels per acre.
Ensley said the soybean crop is expected to be at 38-percent production.
The average yield is 24 bushels an acre. This year, the expected total will be 15 to 20 bushels.
Hay production, vital for cattlemen, is down to about 50 percent of the usual total.
“Cattle growers have already started feeding hay early,” Ensley said. “This is not a good thing. If there was ever a good time for rain, this is it.” He said the drought has also impacted pastureland and cattle.
“Before the rain, the streams were going dry and farmers were seeking alternate water sources like digging wells,” he said.
Poultry can also be affected by hot, dry weather. Thirteen growers have about 50 houses with some 26,000 broilers, not layers, that are batched five or more times a year.
In addition to cattle farmers, vegetable growers have also experienced loss.
“To recoup loss these individuals diversify or convert from one crop to another,” Ensley said. “We expect to see corn acreage increase since prices are holding more steady than cotton. Hopefully, there will be additional options with the passage of a new farm bill.”
Although the weather affects the farm scene in the county, so does the shift in population.
Polk continues the transition from full-time, family farming to what Ensley termed “Sundown farmers”, or people who move into the county and buy 10 to 15 acres.
“Like the rain,” Ensley said, “We welcome all our farmers – whether they have 10 or 150 acres.”