Tennessee drought affecting local farmers, crops

Dry conditions around the area of Chattanooga. Image by WTVC.

The Smith-Perry Berry farm says they haven't seen a drought this bad since 2016, and right now they're struggling to find a window to plant their strawberry fields.

According to Drought.gov, over 37% of Tennessee is in the "abnormally dry" stage, or 'D0'. Almost 2%, including areas in and around Chattanooga, is in severe drought or 'D2.'

For farmers like Aubie Smith at Smith-Perry Berry Farm, this means water shortages and crop loss are common.

Smith says the farm has plenty of pumpkins, because of irrigation, but that's not the case for their strawberry fields.

"We should have already had our strawberry beds, the plastic laid out, probably three weeks ago, but it was so dry the beds won't form," says Smith.

Smith says that if the drought continues throughout the next few weeks, and turns into a D3-Extreme Drought, the farmers will receive aid from the federal government.

Not only are farmers being affected, but even nearby local attractions are seeing the aftermath of this dry and hot weather.

At Blowing Springs Farm, Rock City Public Relations Manager Meagan Jolly says their corn maze is much different than it was the year before when it seemed more like "fall weather."

"The corn is a little bit shorter at the front of the maze, and that is due to lack of rainfall. We don't actually start planting our corn until mid-July, so if we don't have enough rain during those months it's affected," says Jolly.

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