Area farmers work through severe drought

Published: May. 12, 2022 at 9:50 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - It is not even summer yet, and we are feeling those scorching temperatures. Extreme heat has caused a drought spanning most of the state, taking a toll on farmers.

“I really love what I do,” Justin Vail said. “It is becoming more stressful every year.”

For fifth generation farmer, Brandon Vail, the job never stops. From corn, wheat, cattle or crawfish, Vail said it’s a job that requires some elbow grease, but he said he knew what he signed up for.

“Wheats, oat, corn, milo – I’ve raised just about everything you can grow here,” Vail said.

Over the last several years, Vail said his work has been that much harder due to frequent rain and damaging hurricanes, but this year, he said it is just the opposite.

“This year, everything happened to shift on us,” Vail said. “We went into a drought.”

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, much of Louisiana is in a drought, with Calcasieu Parish facing a D-2 or severe drought. As compared to a year ago, most of the state was white, meaning there was no threat.

As rice as his primary crop, Vail explains he is pulling even longer days to keep up with the evaporation caused by the heat.

“Every eight days or so, I have to go back and add water to every cut in every field,” Vail said. “So, it is a constant, never-ending battle. You never get to stop. You never get to turn your pumps off.”

He said rain is a relief, whereas a year ago, it would have been viewed as more work. Vail also owns livestock, which he said poses its own issues.

“Because it is so dry, we are starting to run into pasture issues,” Vail said. “We are running short of grass in some places. We are really getting concerned about hay.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently extended emergency loans for producers in all Louisiana parishes recovering for drought. Click here for more information.

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