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Drought impacting 67 of 100 counties, $111.1B agriculture industry

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(The Center Square) – Sixty-seven of North Carolina’s 100 counties, including all from Raleigh east to the Atlantic Ocean, have experienced abnormally dry drought putting stress on the state’s No. 1 industry.

Rainfall totals are as much as 6 inches below normal for the year at measuring stations in Goldsboro at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Red Springs, Southern Pines, Washington and Whiteville. Agriculture and agribusiness have an economic impact of $111.1 billion in North Carolina, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler says.

Fifty-seven counties were added to the drought map as abnormally dry since the last posting.

In the most recent crop progress and condition report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s North Carolina Field Office, 23% of corn and 13% of soybeans are poor or very poor. Another 25% and 26%, respectively, are fair.

“Anecdotally, I have heard a number of farmers talk about the corn crop and how much it is suffering and likely damaged by the lack of rain,” Andrea Ashby, director of the Public Affairs Division at the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, told The Center Square.

Sweet potatoes’ progress are at 51%, about 15% behind a year ago and 11% below the five-year average. North Carolina is No. 1 nationally each in all tobacco, flue-cured tobacco, and sweet potatoes; and No. 5 in cotton.

Tobacco is statistically behind in progress, though not by much. The plant does enjoy warmth, though extreme heat can impact the yield. The condition percentage report has flue-cured and burley tobacco each with almost all in good or fair condition.

The Center Square was unsuccessful reaching the N.C. State University Climate Office.

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