While drought conditions have improved in Central and Eastern Kentucky, farmers are still feeling its effects and will be for some time. With drought-damaged corn and lower feed supplies, producers are preparing for winter and hoping for better weather next season.
For Hart County farmer Tim Isaacs, this was the year he was going to expand his registered Angus operation, with his son Matt returning to the farm. "This is a three- to four-year setback," Matt Isaacs said. "We're going to have to make the most of it and find different ways to cope."
In the spring, the Isaacs planted more corn in hopes of having more feed for their planned expansion. Recently, they chopped their entire crop for silage to feed their existing 600 head of cattle this winter. Normally, they would only chop half of their corn acreage for silage and use the other half for grain for winter feeding.
"Even the corn that we have hasn't produced an ear," Matt Isaacs said. "It's changed the entire aspect of feeding cattle. From where corn silage is high in energy, it's not going to be due to the lack of corn on the stalk."
Chris Clark, Hart County agriculture and natural resources agent with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, said the Isaacs' corn crop may actually be a little better than average for his county, but it suffered from a lack of pollination due to the drought and triple-digit temperatures earlier this summer.