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Severe drought touches 10 North Carolina counties

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(The Center Square) – Ten counties, mostly in the eastern part of the state, are under severe drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor of North Carolina.

Sixty-nine more are considered in moderate drought, according to the weekly report from Tuesday. A week earlier, 57 counties were in moderate drought and there were none reaching the severe level.

Pitt and surrounding counties are the hub of the worst conditions. At the Tar River location in Greenville the National Weather Service measured 0.33 inches in the last seven days as of Wednesday afternoon, the website of the U.S. Geological Survey says. That was from an overnight rain Sunday into Monday that broke the humidity a bit, but not the dry spell.

In addition to Pitt, all or parts of Beaufort, Bertie, Columbus, Craven, Greene, Martin, Pamlico, Stokes and Wayne counties are in severe drought.

The moderate drought extends from the foothills to the Atlantic Ocean.

Abnormally dry conditions are in 21 counties, many in the southern foothills and the mountains. Forty-two counties a week earlier were considered abnormally dry.

Agriculture and agribusiness have an economic impact of $111.1 billion in North Carolina, the state Agriculture Department says.

In the most recent crop progress and condition report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s North Carolina Field Office, 68% of corn and 30% of soybeans are poor or very poor condition. Another 15% and 47%, respectively, are fair.

Sweet potatoes’ progress is at 79%, about 9% behind a year ago and just 1% 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.

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