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After Ida, Valley farmer looks forward to greener pastures

Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 10:39 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Remnants of Hurricane Ida left a mess for some people around the Shenandoah Valley, but after a very dry and hot summer, a local farmer said even just a day after the rain stopped, things are already looking a little greener.

Some farmers like Art and Mary Jo Mitchell of Rockingham County tapped into their hay supply before the winter. Art said other farmers turned to sell cattle sooner than they planned to.

“It seemed like day after day, it got dryer and dryer with hot, hot weather. It turned into weeks and then it almost turned into months, he said. “We started feeding our cattle hay in July and I don’t remember doing that anytime before. We usually like to wait till November.”

Mitchell easily described their corn crop and pastures after weeks with no rain in summer heat: “Desert brown” and “pitiful,” but after Ida remnants dumped rain across the region, things are finally perking up.

“The grass has come out,” Mitchell said. “Things are greening up.”

At this point in the summer, Mitchell said the corn will not make a full recovery, but it’s not a total loss. He said the outcome may have been better if the storms came sooner.

“It probably won’t be a full crop like it would have been, but there will still be some useful crop there,” Mitchell said. “If that rain would’ve come a few weeks earlier I think the corn crop probably would have made a full crop then we wouldn’t have had to feed any hay. We would’ve had enough grass to carry the cattle through the summer.”

The grass was looking much different last month, but now Mitchell said his cows will rotate through green pastures again.

“A lot of this land through here is not land you can irrigate, so we depend on the Lord to send the rain. Over and over I say, and I’m looking up now, you’ve gotta have faith to be a farmer,” Mitchell said.

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