Farmers struggle with dry spell while backyard gardens thrive - WKRN News 2

Farmers struggle with dry spell while backyard gardens thrive

Posted: Updated: Aug 05, 2014 07:03 PM

It's that time of the year when Tennesseans are reaping the benefits of vegetable crops both from area farms and from our own back yards.

While we can water our own gardens, farmers who are dependent upon Mother Nature are having a tougher time, especially recently in the hot and dry weather.

Middle Tennessee has not had any rainfall in more than a week and it could still be several more days without any.

Haskell Evans, owner of Evans Produce in Wilson County has about 25 acres, most of which is not irrigated.

"I have a well that we use early in the season, and about the time that we really need it for the fields, it runs dry," Evans said.

He added that though he still has a crop to sell, the yield is a little off, and the size of some of the vegetables is smaller.

"We've had some good sized tomatoes, but we just haven't had any real big ones like we had last year with all the rain. The weather will make us or break us. From wet and cold weather early in the season to hot and dry weather now. It's just we're completely dependent on Mother Nature."

Justin Stefanski, UT/TSU Agricultural Extension Agent for Wilson County said that if Tennessee goes for two solid weeks of 90 degree temperatures without any rain, it can take a toll on plants.

"Smaller trees and plants can possibly die, if they are already stressed. A lot of things can survive, they just defoliate themselves. That's a natural response to stress, they'll drop their leaves earlier,” he explained.

Meanwhile, backyard gardens that have the benefit of being watered with a garden hose are having a banner year.

Lynn Cathey in Wilson County has about garden in his backyard that is doing great.

"I tell you, my neighbors are going to have plenty of food. They are going to have plenty. I told my wife we are not going to be able to eat them all. If we eat tomatoes, and tomatoes, and tomatoes, we are not going to be able to eat them all," Cathey said.

Cathey said he waters his tomato plants with a gallon per plant every three or four days.

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