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Drought is drying up hay crop

Julia Botero
Hay is growing slower this season than in years with more rain.


Jefferson, Lewis and parts of St. Lawrence Counties are in the early stages of a drought. Areas of central and western New York are experiencing much worse conditions. Mike Hunter with the Cornell Cooperative Extension says the corn crop is fine, for now. But hay has taken a hit so far this summer.

Mike Hunter spoke to WRVO by cell phone from the middle of a corn field in Ellisburg, in southern Jefferson County, the driest place in the county right now. 

"You could kick the dust in the cornfields right now and the dust would fly in between the corn rows."

He said if a corn crop isn't getting enough water, it’s obvious."It's kind of a defense mechanism that the corn has is that sometimes you'll drive by or visit a cornfield and some of the leaves will have started to roll up a little bit. Some will describe it as looking as pineapples out there."

Credit Julia Botero / WRVO News
Corn needs less water when its young, but more as it grows taller.

Hunter said the corn rolls up its leaves to conserve water. It’s common to see this in the late afternoon when the day is hottest. He said if corn starts rolling its leaves in the morning and keeps them rolled all day, it’s a sign the plant isn't getting enough water.

Hunter said the cornfield he's not worried about corn now. 

"It looks really good. It has good color. It doesn't show a lot of stress at least in this part of the state.  I know other parts of the state have lot worse conditions then we do."

Corn needs more water as it gets taller. If more rain doesn’t fall in the next few weeks, crops could show signs of trouble.

Hay has been the most hurt by our dry summer. The drought means there'll be a smaller harvest this year. If more rain comes, the hay could grow back taller and faster before the season is over.