drought

Creative Commons

A level one drought issued for Kentucky last month has been lifted due to the recent rainfall. Drought and high winds contributed to wildfires in eastern Kentucky that burned about 50,000 acres.

The state Division of Forestry expects the timely precipitation and cooler temperatures will significantly reduce the risk of wildfires. Farmers are still expected to feel the effects of the drought for months to come.

The excessive heat and drought in Kentucky this summer have drawn natural disaster area designations for seven counties. Surrounding counties are also affected as well as two counties each in Indiana and Tennessee.

Kevin Willis

While the recent rain in our listening area is certainly a welcome sight for farmers, it comes too late to save the crops that have already been devastated by the drought. Still, WKU agriculture professor Todd Willian says the rainfall could help crops that are harvested later in the year, like soybeans.

Kevin Willis

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear's office says another 68 counties have been declared primary disaster areas due to damage from drought. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued the declaration, which also qualifies 22 contiguous counties for assistance.

For burley tobacco farmers in Kentucky and Tennessee, an average crop being forecast is a big relief.  A few weeks ago, the crop was on the brink of ruin from extreme heat and drought. 

Kevin Willis

The drought that has impacted so many parts of region is also presenting major challenges to livestock producers. The lack of corn crop this year has led to higher feed prices for cattle, and that is forcing livestock producers into a difficult decision: do they sell their cattle now at a loss, or hold on to those animals in hopes of getting better prices down the road?

The brutal weather this summer throughout the Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee region is leading to dire consequences for farmers and consumers. Some corn farmers in southern and western Kentucky have had almost all of their crop wiped out this season. That has many agriculture experts predicting both short and long term effects on commodity and food prices throughout the region.

A combination of scorching heat and drought is starting to raise anxiety levels about water supplies in some parts of Kentucky as demand grows to keep lawns green and gardens producing. The state says no water systems are experiencing supply shortages. But some communities are asking residents to voluntarily conserve water for non-essential uses such as washing vehicles and watering lawns and gardens.

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.