Drought takes a toll on local farmers

AUTAUGAVILLE, AL (WSFA) - Most of the WSFA 12 News viewing area is now in a severe drought designation.  With a five-inch rainfall deficit already this year, local farmers are bracing for the worst.

"Without rain on a regular basis, the drought is beginning to take it's toll." said Harold Gaines.

Gaines owns a farm in Autauga County.  After 35 years in the business, he's all too familiar with the ups and downs of the weather cycle.

He said, "Farming has more gambling than Las Vegas. We're betting it will rain when you need it to rain and that it won't rain when you don't need it to rain."

Right now, he needs the rain.  After a dry winter season, what moisture was in the soil has almost depleted.

"We've basically completed our planting process, and we need rain to help that grow.  What crops are already up are really needing water to survive and thrive," he added.

Another side effect of the drought is that there's not enough grass for the cows to eat.  Gaines says cattle farmers are now having to dip into their winter feed supplies.

"If we don't get rain in the next few weeks, people will have to start selling their cows," Gaines said.

But what is one man's curse is another man's blessing. For wheat farmers, this dry weather is exactly what they need for harvest.

Gaines said, "They can harvest their wheat uninterrupted from the weather, and they will have great quality and quantity. So, hopefully, the day we get through combining wheat, it will start raining."

He is hoping to strike the perfect balance so his crops and his profits don't run dry.

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