The long stretch of hot, dry weather from the last several months is shriveling up income for Alamance County farmers. Most of the county has received less than four inches of rain in the past two months – four inches less than normal, according to the National Weather Service.
The county could be on track to see the tenth driest year on record. That’s following what was last year the second wettest year on record, adding more complicated layers to the day-to-day job of local farmers like Vaughn Willoughby, a co-owner at Pritchett Farms in Elon.
“This field is so dry right now, we don’t have a machine heavy enough to cut his land up and get it prepared,” Willoughby said. “And so all that’s going to do is delay the crop which going forward the longer it waits the more it affects the other end.”
A deficit in the rain means a deficit in income as well. Willoughby says the fall is their busy season for sales. Pausing production now means delaying production in the future. Add that to the layer of the drought shriveling up co-owner Edgar Pritchett’s second-highest produced plant, the soybean, it shrivels up his profits as well.
“The soybean itself is small because there’s not enough moisture to fill out the bean like it should be,” said Pritchett. “It will take a whole lot more beans of this size to make a bushel than it would in a normal year. So that’s going cut your yield and your income a whole lot right there.”
Add that to the soybean plants growing shorter than normal this season, machines have to go down much further to get more beans, but Willoughby says the blades can only go down so far, so often.
“Instead of going over this land once or twice to get it ready you might go over it four five or six times you can do it but it’s going to take five times more fuel and five times more time.”