Dry weather poses a problem for farmers - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Dry weather poses a problem for farmers

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New technology down on the farm-- a machine made in Japan is planting the fields at Hurricane Flats in South Royalton.

"It does it all for you," said Geo Honigford of Hurricane Flats. "It cuts a furrow and drops it in and it's just paper so the paper bio-degrades."

But as the dust rises from the dirt, it's apparent that with farming, there will always be the same old problems.

"Yeah, it's done dry," Honigford said. "You wouldn't know it by looking around at the grass. The grass looks nice and green."

According to the WCAX Weather team, it's been a solid three weeks since the region has seen a good soaking. That and low humidity are a worrisome combination for farmers.

"In the summertime when it gets hotter, there is actually humidity in the air, so the plants don't lose as much water to the air," Honigford explained.

The irrigation gun has been running nonstop for the last 48 hours. The water comes from the nearby White River, but it takes electricity and manpower to run the pump.

Reporter Adam Sullivan: Does that cost you more time? More money?
Geo Honigford: Certainly both.

Just down the road at the Westlands Farm, the added expense comes in the form of feed if the lack of rain begins to affect the hay crop.

"There is concern that we won't have enough hay to feed the animals in the winter if we don't get good growth of hay," said Peggy Ainsworth of Westlands Farm.

The Ainsworths hay roughly 50 acres of their 440-acre farm. It's the main feed source for their dairy herd. Farmers say the grass is already showing signs of stress.

"You may have the amount of hay you need but it won't be the quality, so then you will have to supplement that with grain," Ainsworth said. "But that is more expense, too. You are dealing with grain that's $400 a ton."

But the dollars stay right on the farm when there's an occasional downpour, something only Mother Nature can provide.

"Once a week when you want it would be nice, but you can't order it," Ainsworth said.
Back at Hurricane Flats, a scattered shower comes and goes. Not exactly what they are looking for.

"Drizzle doesn't count," Honigford said. "This will just knock down the dust."

Clouds on the horizon offer hope for more. But for this farmer, and those across the region, when the rain comes is simply out of their hands.

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