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Recent rain eases drought concerns for local farmers

Elizabeth Saulsbury • Jul 9, 2014 at 8:59 PM

City residents flocked to the Johnson City Farmers’ Market Wednesday morning, hoping to purchase fresh produce before another round of rain.

Under an overcast sky and the threat of a shower, customers browsed the vegetables, fruits, baked goods and crafts produced by local hands. Most of the vendors brought a bountiful harvest to the market, and the local farmers seemed relieved with the torrents of rain received the night before.

“I’ve been worried about (my crops),” said farmer Jess Price. “We got a good rain last night, and that will hold us off for a few days.”

Heavy rains Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning helped to allay the area’s recent drought. Still, the dry weather is a source of concern for area farmers.

“As far as crops are concerned, they’re doing OK,” said Karen Hammitt, with the U.S. Department of of Agriculture’s Consolidated Farm Service Agency in Jonesborough. “Pastures and hay fields have really been suffering.”

Due to the dry weather, farmers can see a difference in their produce.

“You can tell how the dry weather’s been affecting it,” said farmer Trish Shipley. “It’s pretty wilted sometimes.”

The dry weather may not be the only thing influencing a crop, though. According to farmer Fred Giler, the ground itself can play a part in the outcome of a planting.

“My crops have been really dry in my backyard, but my partner in Telford has been doing really well,” Giler said. “Part of that is because of the weather, but part of it is because my clay soil doesn’t grow plants as well.”

Giler said he expects his green beans to be ready for harvest next week, and his tomatoes have been faring well. In fact, many of the farmers at the market said that they had a good crop of tomatoes.

“Tomatoes are growing the best,” said farmer Boyd Chandley. “Mine are about six and a half feet tall right now.”

The Johnson City Farmers’ Market is open every Wednesday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is located at 500 S. Roan St., in the parking lot of The Battery. For more information, visit www.johnsoncityfarmersmarket.com.

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