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W.Va. officials worried about rainfall deficits

July 27, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD and DAVE McMILLION

Officials in Berkeley and Jefferson counties on Thursday discussed how to deal with increasing dry conditions and how it is affecting agriculture in the area.

Berkeley County Commissioner William L. "Bill" Stubblefield said he wanted to hear from a member of the agricultural community about whether county leaders should request that Gov. Joe Manchin declare a drought emergency.

"It's awful dry out there," Stubblefield said.

Manchin on June 28 acted on recommendations from state Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gus R. Douglas to make such a declaration for 42 counties in the state, according to the commissioner's office.

At that time, Department of Agriculture spokesman Buddy Davidson said counties in the western part of the state, west of Interstate 79, had received less rainfall than the eastern part of the state.

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"Usually, it is reversed," Davidson said.

A drought declaration typically originates from individuals who assess drought conditions in each county and report them to state and federal officials in Morgantown and Charleston, W.Va., Davidson said.

In Charles Town on Thursday, Craig Yohn of the West Virginia University extension service in Jefferson County told the Jefferson County Commission that some farmers are starting to cut their corn now for silage.

Farmers can get crop insurance for such conditions and insurance adjusters have been in the county, Yohn said.

Yohn also said farmers can rely on alternative feed when dry conditions cut into the quality of grain being raised.

There have been no reports of wells going dry in Jefferson County, Yohn said.

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