Heat and drought are affecting this year's crops but how can this be avoided in the future?


Heat index in West Tennessee has been well over 100 degrees, that combined with no rain for over two weeks has many worried about the crops.

"The dry situation is going to continue until the end of June which is going to be very challenging…that's going to impact the crops and the plants are going to lose plenty of water during this time,” said Avat Shekoofa a Crop Physiologist with UT.

The last time that West Tennessee had rain was over all the way back on June 7th when we had nearly an inch of rain.

Since the start of March we have only had about 15 inches of rain, that’s almost 5 inches below average

Avat Shekoofa says that the lack of rain combined with the high temperatures can be devastating for crops, “It is critical and we do not have too many choices unless we can irrigate, but we could do smarter and use some of these genotypes hybrids.”

That’s exactly what Shekoofa has spent the last 5 years studying. She is experimenting with different varieties of soybeans to see how they handle the lack of water.

There might be some that they can do better based on the amount of water loss. There might be a genotype that can lose less water but still survive better and produce yield better for soybean, corn, and cotton. That's what we do,” said Shekoofa.

Shekoofa is also studying the water needs of the soybean plants, “for that if I have access to irrigation, how am I going to use this amount of water I have for the best use and the highest production with less water loss?”

The soybeans that weather the hot temperatures and drought will be used to shape the future seeds planted by farmers but Shekoofa says that the environment is an one going struggle for growing crops.

She said, “This challenge of environmental, unstable environment that we're facing, whatever you want to call it, climate change, environmental change, it is there and we're facing that.”

Shekoofa says that this is still a long way to go but she believes that her work will improve the future of farming.

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