Summer Drought Drains Farmers Of $17.4 Million

3 News Story

January 05, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

County farmers suffered last summer in what some called the worst drought in memory.

The arid weather devastated 70 percent of the corn crop, dried 80 percent of its pastureland and destroyed 62 percent of its soybeans.

Frederick was the only county in the state that lost more, federal crop damage estimates showed.

Manchester farmer Richard L. Mosersaid if federal aid were not available and if he hadn't planted a second crop of corn late in the summer, he would be out of business.

Moser, 42, farms about 250 acres and milks 135 cows. He normally harvests 16 to 18 tons of corn per acre; last year some fields yielded only 4 tons, he said.

Rainfall during the growing season -- March 1to Oct. 31 -- was 10.77 inches below normal for the county, said Carroll D. Homann, a state agriculture statistician. The county received19.23 inches of rain during the growing season, he said.

The losses to county farmers exceeded $17.4 million. Corn is the county's main cash crop.

The Maryland Agriculture Statistics Service listed the sales value of all agricultural products from the county at $57.9 million for 1987, the latest year for which numbers are available.

Carroll's losses were 20 percent to 30 percent higher than in 1988, the last time the area experienced a drought, said Elizabeth A. Schaeffer, county executive director of the U.S. Agricultural Stabilizationand Conservation Service.

The losses meant many farmers qualifiedfor emergency government aid programs.

Most county farmers stayedin business, but many will have to borrow more money than usual nextyear, said William D. Schrodel, senior loan official for Central Maryland Farm Credit in Westminster.

Edmund H. Dutterer, a grain and beef farmer in Frizzelburg, estimated his losses to be about $92,000.He normally harvests 130 bushels of corn per acre and expected to get 60 in 1991. He farms 480 acres and expected a bushel to sell for $2.75.

Dutterer's wife works as an accountant, which gives the family a buffer, but the losses will put a dent in their savings for theiroldest child's college education, he said.

The drought also affected city dwellers in the form of water bans.

Hampstead, Westminster and Manchester instituted water restrictions last summer. New Windsor asked residents to voluntarily conserve water.

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