Drought concerns grip Eastern Carolina farmers

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Farmers across Eastern Carolina are grappling with serious drought conditions affecting crop health. Field Crop Specialist Jonathan Smith emphasized the uncertain impact on crops due to significant water loss.

WITN’s First Alert Weather Team reports that since early June, Eastern Carolina has received rainfall deficits ranging from 2 to 4 inches, heightening concerns among farmers.

“Everything is fairing okay except for the corn at this point. Corn and tobacco are in their most critical stages,” said farmer Zack Whitfield, noting challenges despite having an irrigation system.

“Moving forward, we need to focus on crop management systems and proper irrigation,” Smith, of the NC Cooperative Extension, stressed. He highlighted that only 3% of North Carolina’s cropland is irrigated.

Whitfield expressed reliance on natural replenishment, stating, “Sometimes there’s not much you can do but wait and hope Mother Nature helps out.”

Adding to worries, as summer intensifies, temperatures are expected to rise. Smith warned that corn productivity declines significantly when temperatures reach around 92 degrees Fahrenheit.

Despite challenges, Smith assured farmers of support from the NC Cooperative Extension, advising them to optimize available water resources.