Drought Hits Farmers Hard

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

March 31, 2006

This March seems to one of the driest month's ever and the lack of rain is hitting farmers in Central Virginia especially hard.

Ed Scharer is one of many local farmers affected by the unusually dry month.

"That early heat we had in March dried out the land far beyond what it usually does. I've never seen it so dry in March," said Scharer.

Scharer owns close to 500 acres of land. Normally this field would be filled with tall grass used to make hay. Which he sells or uses to feed the cattle, but now he's left with dry grass.

"I'd say that the fescue should be almost knee high at this point, where...it's not even close and unless we get rains very soon and timely rains after that we'll have a very short cutting," said Scharer.

This means Scharers is losing more than a quarter of his hay sales. It's cost him close to 19,000 already this year. Crops like soybean, corn and wheat are also taking a hit.

"Unless we get timely rains for the winter, we will be in really trouble, because we have no subsoil moisture to work with," said Scharer.

The lack of rain has water officials equally concerned. They've asked people to conserve as much possible, but if the dry season continues they might make it mandatory. Still, Scharer is hoping it won't come to that and maybe mother nature will finally give them a break.

Forecasters say that this March could be one of the top ten driest months of all time.

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