Agriculture

Kentucky's corn crop took a sharp turn for the worse during last week's record-breaking heat, and nearly half the crop is in poor condition as a drought lingers in some key producing areas.

Tommy Newton / WKU University Relations

State Climatologist Dr. Stuart Foster of the Kentucky Climate Center at WKU has been checking the dry conditions in several parts of Kentucky. He says the drought this year is somewhat similar to one that occurred in 2007, but it could eventually be compared to worse droughts if the dry weather continues.

UK Cooperative Extension Service

As temperatures this week head into the triple digit range, pastures in the state are suffering. University of Kentucky Extension Forage Specialist, Dr. Garry Lacefield, says farmers are faced with a tough situation.

The National Weather Service says heat will build across Kentucky this week, climaxing in triple-digit readings on Friday. Meteorologists say temperature readings that day could reach 103 degrees in Owensboro. The forecast is leading to more worries for farmers.

University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Farmers in some portions of western Kentucky could be facing a tough year if dry weather continues. Officials say the drought has been upgraded from "severe" to "extreme" in some areas.

Henderson County Extension Agent Mike Smith told the Henderson Gleaner that farmers could see losses of up to 40 percent in fields. Smith says that means the crop producers might make enough to cover expenses, but will make little or no profit.

National Sweet Sorghum Producers and Processors Association

                A firm based in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky is hoping more farmers raise sorghum to use in ethanol fuels production in the future. Southeast Biofuels has completed the first phase of a project that resulted in a million gallons of ethanol being produced from two thousand acres of sweet sorghum. It’s a plant that’s similar in appearance to corn, that can grow in a variety of soil types.

Three former executives of a failed livestock firm based in  New Albany, Indiana have been sentenced for their roles in swindling Kentucky farmers. Authorities say farmers should receive restitution as part of the sentences.

What a difference a year makes. Last year was the wettest on record across Kentucky going back to 1895. Many areas of the commonwealth that experienced widespread flooding last year are now in drought.

Although many communities in the U.S. have taken steps to curb smoking, Kentucky tobacco growers continue to benefit from export sales. However, the government in New Zealand today is taking some very strong steps to discourage tobacco use.

State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has scheduled visits to six Kentucky schools next week, to promote child nutrition and healthier lunches. Comer says fresh produce from local farms should be on the menus in schools in the bluegrass state.

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