Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Dry Weather Impacting Farmers Across Upper Cumberland

October is usually the driest month of the year and we are entering the month coming off a dry September, something that could impact grass and cattle.

This is the time of year where grass is sewn but without rain it could dry out and die. The same goes for pastures where cattle graze. Overton County UT Extension Agent Jason Garrett said the dry weather could end up costing farmers money.

“Right now we need rain, because we are going into October,” Garrett said. “And if we don’t get rain on pastures where the cattle are grazing, especially in a situation when your overstocked, you’re going to start feeding hay a lot earlier.”

Garrett said the dry weather could cause cattle farmers to cut into the winter supply, which costs time and money. He said grass is going to have a tough dry season, but cattle production is hit hardest by the dry weather.

“When it gets dry and pastures start, you know, drying up, cattle will consume things they normally wouldn’t eat, because of the lack of grass,” Garrett said.

Garrett said weeds like perilla mint are toxic to cattle and can cause death. Perilla mint causes more cattle deaths in Tennessee than any other toxic plant.

“Another thing I’ve noticed in my own beef herd before is acorn poisoning,” Garrett said. “Where a large amount of acorns have fallen if you have oak trees around where you cattle are, they can consume too many of these during a drought whenever the grass is diminished and get sick on that.”

Garrett said once the winter frost comes, it kills perilla mint and other weeds toxic to cattle. Garrett said one positive of the dry weather is it is easier to harvest row crops such as soy and corn.

“I’ve noticed today coming to work, I’ve seen several corn fields already starting to be harvested, and that’s something that cannot be done if it isn’t dry,” Garrett said. “Corn has to be pretty dry to run through those combines.”

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