Heat, Drought Hurt Farmers' Crops, Sales

Vendors at the Farmers Market in downtown Cartersville say their crops and sales are down this year.

Extreme heat and a drought this summer have affected crops throughout the country, and local farmers say crops in Bartow County are no exception.

One man, who buys produce from farmers from Moultrie to Tennessee to resell at the in downtown , said that his suppliers have had a hard summer with the heat, lack of rain and more bugs than usual, an effect of last year’s mild winter.

“I have two providers up there, and they’ve lost all their crops,” he said.

The man, who asked to remain anonymous, said he has fewer cucumbers, squash, beans and corn to sell this year.

“Everyone is losing their corn,” he said. “They’re losing corn all over the state.”

That and local residents not wanting to brave the heat have affected his sales this year, he said. For example, last July, he sold 900 watermelons at the Farmers Market. This year, he has sold fewer than 200.

“The heat is keeping everyone away,” he said.

And, the economic downturn has added to his loss in business.

“The economy hurts, but the drought is (really) hurting,” he said. “People don’t realize how bad it is. Wait until the end of August. You’ll see.”

According to a CNN report, July was the hottest, surpassing July of 1936, which previously held that record. The first major crop yield showed a nationwide average of 123.4 bushels of corn, the lowest since 1995.

Other local farmers said their crops have been hurt this year as well. Bruce Mealer said the sun has blistered corn and tomatoes. But, he said the economic downturn has affected his business more than the heat.

“We aren’t selling what we’d been selling,” he said. “It’s the money. People don’t have the money they used to have. They buy what they have to have.”

How have the heat and drought this summer affected you and your loved ones? Tell us in the comments.

Bridget Bell said that when temperatures rose above 100 degrees this summer, there was a one-and-a-half week lag in production on her Taylorsville farm. Because of the heat, millet fescue isn’t growing as it should and there are fewer crops to sell at the farmers market, she said.

“The pastures are all dried up,” she said, which means there isn’t enough grass to feed her animals. “We’ve been feeding hay (to the animals). We shouldn’t have to be feeding hay (now).”

One crop that has been damaged permanently for the year is corn, she said.

“You either had it or you didn’t,” she said.

But, Bell said that other foods such as tomatoes, okra and peas will keep producing and, while it’s been a tough summer, there is hope for a good fall crop.

“I figure we’ll make it with the good Lord’s help,” she said.

This article is part of "Dispatches: The Changing American Dream," our ongoing series about how people in Cartersville are adapting to the challenges of life in the 21st century. You can find more Dispatches from across the country at The Huffington Post.

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