Pender County farmers suffering from dry weather conditions

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BURGAW, NC (WWAY) —  The record breaking heat and severe lack of rain that has been plaguing our area is also creating headaches for farmers.

“It’s not just like a lawn where it’s aesthetics or the looks of something. This is a live or die situation. So we need all the water we can get from the rain and we also need to conserve. Everybody needs to conserve in the neighborhood,” said Piney Woods Farm owner Buron Lanier.

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In the past nine months, weather has had detrimental effects on Piney Woods Farm in Burgaw.

“We already have sold a third of our herd, of our mama cows, from the hurricane in order to give us room to re-establish our grasses,” Lanier said.

Lanier is trying to replant the fields that flooded during Hurricane Florence, but cannot due to the abnormally dry conditions the area is suffering from.

“Those seeds just won’t germinate in dry ground. And if it stays there in dry ground very long, it won’t germinate even if it rains on it,” Lanier said.

He says he has some grass left over from the spring to keep the cattle fed for the time being, but says it takes six months for newly planted grass to become usable.

If it doesn’t start raining soon, he might have to sell off more of his herd.

“Right now it’s the 8th driest beginning to the year in as we kept records in Wilmington going back to 1871. If we don’t have any more rainfall between now and the end of the month, it’ll end up the sixth driest start to the year,” said Warning Coordination Meteorologist Steve Pfaff with the National Weather Service in Wilmington.

Pfaff says this time last year we were at 150 percent the normal amount of rainfall for the month. This year, we are at just seven percent, putting us in the lowest tier of the drought monitor.

Pfaff says if these trends continue, we might see a moderate drought develop. But he believes that could change this weekend.

“There will be some people that will see some showers and thunderstorms. While we don’t want severe weather, we can certainly use the rainfall,” Pfaff said.

Pfaff says it’s important to conserve water all year long, but especially while we are experiencing such dry conditions.