Dry weather changing farmers' plans

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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Oh.-(WTAP) In a sense, the dry weather is speeding up the fall harvest season along Ohio route 60, where the Witten family produce farm is located.

"Basically, we would wait for the field corn to get down below 17% moisture," says co-owner Tom Witten, "and then it's ready for a combine to come in and take it off and put it in a bin."

And Witten isn't the only farmer moving up his schedule. He says local farmers are feeding hay to cattle sooner than normal.

"Usually, they get enough growth when the weather cools and there's enough moisture. I know a lot of guys are feeding hay already. Ideally, we'd be another month from anybody putting baies of hay out."

At Sweetapple Farm in Vincent, Mona Barrett says pumpkins were planted in enough time to be ready for the fall season. They were fortunate, Barrett says, to plant crops including corn in time before the dry spell started.

Witten calls this the strangest year for weather he's ever seen: consistent moisture the first eight months of the year, followed by dry conditions since late August.

It was during a severe drought more than 30 years ago that his father, Jerry, installed a massive irrogation system.

"And that's why we irrigate all of our vegetables and sweet corn," Tom Witten says. "You can't rely on Mother Nature for rain every single week."

And it looks like the dry spell-not yet a drought-will continue.