Drought shrinks harvest in Delaware

The Midwest is experiencing one of the worst droughts in recent memory, devastating its agricultural sector.

As far east as Delaware, despite some recent rain, drought conditions also have plagued farmers this summer.

“Below Dover and [the] southern and western part of Suffolk County is just burnt up. I was down there last week and it’s just bad,” said Middletown farmer Dennis Clay.

A limited irrigation system and sporadically wet weather have carried Clay through the summer. He expects his vegetable crop to be “fair.”

“You have little pockets here and there where they have some rain,” he explained. “Like I say it’s really spotty. It’s a tough year for a lot of people.”

Nearby farmers have received visits from insurers, who have assessed their crops at next to zero.

New numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show corn yields in Delaware are down 20 percent this year. The amount of soybeans per acre has dropped more than 30 percent. Nationally, failing harvests have bumped up food prices. Corn prices are a major concern for Delaware’s poultry industry.

Delaware joined with Maryland last week asking the Environmental Protection Agency to waive quotas for corn-based ethanol production, to make sure fuel demands don’t drive up the prices paid by livestock producers.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.