Area farmers have been struggling with the recent high temperatures and a lack of rainfall as they try to keep crops moist and animals fed.
Clint Finney of Mount Pleasant is one of those farmers.
He owns a number of farms along county Road 1 where he raised sheep, hogs, chicken and cattle. Finney says he has to continually use larger pastures just to get his animals through the summer.
WEATHER QUESTIONS — Clint Finney of Mount Pleasant stands in front of his livestock Thursday at one of his multiple farms along county Road 1. High temperatures and a lack of rainfall this summer have caused him to use continually larger pastures to keep his animals fed. He said some local farmers have already switched to feeding hay, which usually doesn’t occur until November. -- Jeremy Kins
"Right now, the forage is usually at 11 to 13 inches, but I'm seeing about 6. Every farmer in the area is behind," said Finney.
He said a number of farmers he's spoken with have said they've switched to feeding their animals hay. The typical time they would switch? November.
Finney estimated he has 80 days until the switch to hay if significant rain doesn't occur.
"Everything is really ahead of schedule this year. The forage should be knee-high, but it's only hitting my ankles," said Finney.
While a 64-by-64 foot space is normally used for his animals, Finney said he has had to use space up to four times that to keep them fed.
"It's been dry before, but this just has a different feel to it. I was a kid when the drought of 1988 hit, but even that started later in the year," said Finney.
It's not just livestock that local farmers have to worry about either - severe temperatures also pose a major risk to crops such as corn and wheat.
And that's the sum of the story across not only Eastern Ohio, but the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia as well.
John Miller of the West Virginia University Extension agency reported the price of corn was up 10 percent last week.
"Although we aren't technically a drought area yet, it's as dry as early as we've ever seen it. The grain market has gone crazy. Soybean prices are up 6.1 percent and wheat is up 9.1 percent, too. With the price of grain rising, that will directly affect the price of beef in the grocery store," said Miller.
He said that while the first cutting of hay in the area was satisfactory, the second cut is currently expected to be a 60 to 70 percent reduction. Farmers in the Northern Panhandle have already switched their livestock to hay, as well.
And as far as corn goes, Miller said it will affect everything.
"It will affect beef, chicken, pork, sweeteners, you name it," said Miller. "The plants are not growing as vigorously as they should."
Corn is a tropical plant, which means heat and humidity isn't really the problem, he said. It's the combination of the dry weather, or lack of rain, with the heat that's causing the plants to experience heat and drought stress.
"There will still be a crop, but it won't yield to it's potential. The question is how badly the crop will be affected," said Miller.
He said that even if good rainfall comes, it probably won't make up for the lost ground. Miller reported that another major worry is how much corn is left over from last year, or the carry-over stock.
"Those stocks are low too and corn processors are scrambling. If this continues, they'll be scrambling even harder," said Miller.