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Heat Wave & No Rain Stunting Crops At Md. Farms

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Alex DeMetrick 370x278 Alex DeMetrick
Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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TALBOT COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)– The heat, combined with a lack of rain, is causing serious problems for some Maryland growers.

Alex DeMetrick reports drought conditions are now gripping much of the state.

Lower than normal rainfall hurts, but heat is killing crops like corn.

“I’ve never seen corn go downhill so fast in all my life,” said Chip Councell.

Councell farms in Talbot County. He says he’ll bring in only a third of the corn crop he’d hoped for because of heat waves.

“Even as late as June 25, we probably had as much potential as we’ve ever had for a big crop. And just in the last three weeks, we really took a turn for the worst,” he said.

“Heat and a lack of rain are not a good combination for agriculture,” said Mark Powell, Maryland Department of Agriculture.

It means to keep quality produce coming, farmers must spend money to water crops.

Irrigating hurts the bottom line, but without it…

“Well, we’d have nothing. In this area we’d literally have no crops at all,” Councell said.

So watering keeps the sweet corn coming, but vast amounts of commodity crops like feed corn are baking in the field.

“Heat is the outlier. When it’s hot as its been, then you start affecting pollination and quality,” Powell said.

And that’s what’s stunting corn on the shore.

“And this is probably going to be the best ear in the field, and it doesn’t look too bad, and that’s what we’re hoping for, but that looks like what we’re going to end up with. The corn crop is pretty much done. It is what it is, and we got what we got,” Councell said.

Maryland’s Agriculture Department says consumers won’t see a decline in the quality of produce, although quantity could be impacted.

The big hit will come to the livestock industry in higher feed costs.

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