Drought elsewhere impacts East Tennessee crops

(WBIR-Lenoir City) Dry weather in the Southern Plains is affecting farmers and their crops in East Tennessee.

For several months, the drought has caused a steady increase in the price of wheat.

But that changed this week.

"I thought we were looking at a good steady price but in the last week, wheat's dropped off between 50 to 60 cents a bushel. Don't really hear any good explanation for that but it has dropped," said Don Bailey, owner of Bailey Farms in Lenoir City.

Bailey grows about 1,000 acres of wheat on his farm. He said it is likely he will have a good crop this summer, but the price of it is more unpredictable.

Bailey watched the price of wheat rise this year from $6, to $6.50, to $7 within the past three weeks.

"Two years ago, wheat was in the $8 to $9 bushel range. So $7 is better than $6 but it's sure not as good as $8 or $9," Bailey said.

But the price fell after some areas saw rainfall.

As of Friday, the price fell to $6.74 per bushel, dropping for the eighth straight day. The Associated Press reported it as the biggest decline since September 2011.

Bailey said he feels lucky to have locked in the price for a third of his wheat crop back in March.

"I thought maybe I'd priced it too soon but now that I'm looking at what the markets are doing in the past few days, it's back down to what we booked at then. So 50 cents a bushel doesn't sound like a lot but when you're looking at 50,000-70,000 bushels, it can add up to a lot of money," he said.

Bailey Farms will not cut the wheat for another four weeks. But according to Bailey, historically, wheat prices drop around harvest time because farmers cannot store it all.

Bailey Farms also owns other crops, like corn and soybeans. Both of those products' prices also fell on Friday.


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