BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Farmers Roy and Linda Doan are feeling the effects of the dry last few months.
Linda runs a commercial cut flower business called Aunt Willie’s Wildflowers. As she prepares for the coming seasons, she’s reminded she isn’t the only one feeling the weather effects.
“The deer came in the last week or two of the season and ate every (dahlia) bud,” said Linda. “I think it was just dry enough that they didn’t have anything else and those buds looked good, because deer aren’t supposed to like dahlias.”
She is categorizing her dahlia tubers, a process that is a bit more difficult. Even the tubers are showing signs of dry weather.
“Now, when we’re digging (the dahlia tubers), the ground is so dry, the tubers come up easily, but the dirt falls off of them,” Linda said. “And when you store dahlias, it’s better to store them in that nice, heavy clay, but it all fell off the tubers because it was so dry.”
Spring plants have been planted in the greenhouse which has drip tape installed, making it more efficient to water. Without rain, field crops have to be manually watered. Linda said they have their own well. If they were on city water, it would cost more money to water plants.
The Doans planted cover crop like crimson and clover, and rye two and a half months ago. They want to restore the soil of the land they planted in and use the crop as bouquet fillers. These plants should have sprouted by now, but haven’t with no rain. They hope these plants will eventually sprout, otherwise, they will have to replant them.
The cattle of Cherry Hill Pastures are hungry. They’re solely grass fed and with no rain, pasture rotation has been difficult. Roy has had to sell some of his cattle earlier than he normally would.
“I may have to wean some of the calves from the cows because if I wean them off, the calves won’t eat as much as the cows,” Roy said. “And then the cows, if they’re not nursing and they go dry, then it won’t take as much feed to keep them in good shape over the winter.”
Selling cattle may not stop there, as Roy said he may have to sell more over the winter. Calf crop sales bring in more money in the spring than in the fall.
Roy normally starts feeding cattle hay in the winter, but they’ve gotten that earlier this year too. He pays a local distributor $50 to $60 per row of hay. Buying from an exporter could cost $100 a row.
“Especially when you’re an all-grass operation, you are dependent on rain, because you want that grass to regrow and you want to have it for as long through the year as you can,” Roy said. “Every day I can go without feeding hay is a little bit extra profit.”
Like many farmers in the area, the lack of rain is costing the Doans more now and could have future effects on business as well.