COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Farmers in Orangeburg County are begging for rain with hot and dry conditions outside putting their crops at risk.
The Seven Oaks Farm right off Highway 321 in North produces about 1,000 acres of corn, cotton, and peanuts, but it’s the corn that’s most at risk because of recent drought conditions.
After going several days with no rain and a record-breaking heatwave to top it off, the co-owner of Seven Oaks Farm, Jeffrey Axon, said some of his corn is significantly damaged and some corn is already considered unsellable because of the unfavorable weather.
There’s a distinct difference in the two fields of corn crop on opposite sides of Creek Mill Road at Seven Oaks. One side is irrigated which helps to make up for the lack of rain, but the other side is what’s called “dry land corn” – visibly smaller and wilted from the lack of water, and the bump in temperatures over the last few days hasn’t helped.
It’s bad timing for farmers growing corn, says Axon, who said he hasn’t seen any rain in, “a good three weeks and the corn right now is at a critical time for needing a lot of rain. So, the combination of the extreme heat the lack of rainfall is really starting to take a toll on the corn crop.”
Even the irrigation process will only help so much to combat the recent drought. According to Axon, using irrigation to make up for lost rain can also be counterproductive.
“We’re at the point now where even the heat and dry weather can take a toll on the irrigated crop. The irrigation is not meant to replace the rain that God gives us,” said Axon. “It’s meant to supplement it. So, it’s getting to the point where it’s hard to keep up. The more we run it, the bigger the power bill and the less profit we’re able to make as we have to put so much money into keeping the water running.”
Only about 25% of the corn crops at the Seven Oaks Farm are “dry land corn,” which is still about 100 acres of corn that could be a complete loss now because of the recent drought-like conditions. Even if we get some rain, at this point Axon fears it may be too late for some of the corn, and our meteorologists say there is no sign of any relief for at least another week.
The Seven Oaks farmers typically harvest the corn in late August or early September, and are hoping this setback won’t damage too much of their product.