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Farmers feel the effects from near-record rain in 2018

(WCYB/Caleb Perhne)

An abundance of rain last year poses new challenges for local farmers.

2018 was the fourth wettest year on record in the Tri-Cities. The region received more than 54 inches of rain this year, more than a foot more rain than normal.

"Out of the 365 days in 2018, 161 of them had measurable rainfall, so if you think about it, on average it was raining every other day,” Storm Track 5 Chief Meteorologist Dave Dierks said.

The effects of a rainy year was the conversation among many gathering for a farm expo in Blountville. Mud was the big topic.

"It has been a challenge feeding,” cattle farmer Mike Blevins said. “It has been a challenge doing anything around the barn because of the mud."

The rain caused an abundance of the hay for cattle farmers, but if hay gets wet, it reduces the nutritional value.

"You really had to be on your game to get it dry and get it up to avoid getting it rained on,” Blevins said.

Many farmers said too much rain is a better situation than not enough. They are giving cattle nutritional supplements.

Farmers said having to supplement their cattle's food won't translate to higher prices at the grocery store. They’ll have to absorb the extra cost.

"We haven't lost any cows,” Jonah Lee said. “but some of our friends have due to the lack of nutrition."

Even for crops, too much rain can be bad. Gardeners said they would rather irrigate during a drought. 2018 was a continuous fight against disease and mold.

"Late season blight on tomatoes, if it's got the late season blight, you might as well pull them up and forget it,” Loyd Copeland said.

One of the few pluses was corn and okra, which thrived in the rain.

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