CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. — For the first time in four years, parts of north Georgia are experiencing an extreme drought.
It’s so bad that the United States Department of Agriculture has declared an emergency in Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, and Walker counties.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Eboni Deon was in Cherokee County at Buckeye Creek Farm to learn what farmers are doing to protect their crops.
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“We’ll have to irrigate,” Liz Porter, owner of the farm said. “We’ll have to first water heavily unless we get heavy rain and then we’ll water regularly until they can get established. Same with strawberries. We’ve been delaying putting strawberries out due to no rain.”
Porter says the drought has halted planting for new crops and hindered the growth of her corn and greens.
“Our field corn is our main crop. The money we make from that is what pays for everything else we do throughout the year,” Porter said.
The proceeds from corn help to pay for fertilizer and seeds, which help to sustain the farm.
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“The drought was the biggest factor because it caused the kernels not to be formed,” Porter said.
To get water to crops Porter usually uses her irrigation system.
Recent weather conditions have limited that as well.
“It’s so hot and dry that we’ll be losing a lot to evaporation with overhead irrigation,” Porter said.
A plot of dirt and very short grasses is all Deon could see in one area.
It was actually greens planted there, including turnip, collard, and mustard.
The crops were planted long enough ago that by now they should at least be 12 to 15 inches tall and bushy, according to Porter.
When the crops do yield enough to sell to restaurants or farmers markets it will have to be at a higher price just for Porter to break even.
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Drought conditions are so bad in several northwest Georgia counties, a natural disaster has been declared.
The declaration will allow some farmers to receive essential emergency assistance.
Porter is hoping for rain.
“If anyone knows how to do a rain dance, come out here,” Porter jokes.
Rain is expected this weekend and it will be much appreciated to the areas experiencing a drought.
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