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Wilkinson County farms suffer in extreme drought

Josh Howell says the area hasn't seen measurable rain since July.

WILKINSON COUNTY, Ga. — Wilkinson County is one of the areas in extreme drought in Central Georgia.

That makes it hard for farmers trying to turn a profit this year.

Josh Howell doesn't find much joy when he pulls his peanut plants out of the ground in Wilkinson County.

"Just no peanuts on them. There should be a big root crop if you had plenty of moisture, but there is absolutely no peanuts on it. It's the worst I've ever seen in all my years of farming," Josh said while looking at a plant he pulled from the ground.

He says 20 acres are a total loss.

"It's like pure beach sand out here right now," he described, not black dirt or even red Georgia clay -- just shriveled up plants that have baked in the sun.

"The last week of July was the last measurable rain we had. We had a few little showers, but it never brought them out of a wilt even at night, so it's, by far, the driest I've ever seen it in this area," Josh exclaimed.

Josh has most of his acreage nine miles up the road in Laurens County. He figures he'll harvest a ton of peanuts an acre here.

"Nothing crazy good, but it's better than nothing," he admitted.

The farmer says between the peanuts, cotton, and corn he'll lose about $100,000 this year.

"And to ride by it every day and watch it burn up, it's heartbreaking. Sometimes you drive in a different direction so you don't have to look at it," he said.

He'll harvest what he can and next summer he will hope for better conditions.

"Well, I ain't got much choice -- it's all I've ever really known, so we'll hope the  bank works with us and we'll try and go at it again next year and make up for it next year, hopefully," he projected.

Josh says this year hurts especially bad because farmers also suffered losses from Hurricane Michael last season.

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