Local farmers, shoppers worried about the drought - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local farmers, shoppers worried about the drought

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Chattanooga and North Georgia are officially under an extreme drought according to NOAA's U.S. Drought Monitor. It's the worst the area has seen since the summer of 2008.

Shoppers are grabbing all they can at Brown's Produce in Ringgold. Supplies might not last through the summer without some steady, repeated rain soon. Co-owner David Brown says a lot of tomatoes have gone to waste.

"We're having to throw a lot down. It's got mineral rot because it's so dry," explains Brown. "I guess you pick a box and you throw half the box down."

He's lost nearly $2,000 in tomatoes so far with most of the summer still ahead. The corn stalks are shorter than normal, and the ears are being picked before they reach peak size and fullness so Brown can sell as much as possible before the crop dries up.

"We used to irrigate about every three days. Now we're irrigating every day, 4 to 5 hours a day," adds Brown.

This week's pop-up storms missed the farm and the ground is as dry as a desert.

READ MORE | Drought-busting rain needed across the Tennessee Valley

"We got about a tenth of an inch. It didn't even dry the dirt up," says Brown.

Many of his other items are coming up nicely for now, such as peppers, potatoes, and most of the watermelons just to name a few. However, the drought still concerns not only Brown, but his customers, too.

"Everything will start going away. The prices start going up. Supply and demand," says Clay Brown. He came to the store with is two toddlers to buy some watermelons.

We all could be paying a lot more for produce if the drought gets worse.

READ MORE | Parts of TN Valley in "extreme drought"

"I think it'll change in the stores [supermarkets], but it won't change here," says Brown.

Brown also sends supplies to some fruit stands and to WIC, a state supplemental nutritional program for women, infants, and children. With so many families counting on him, he tries to stay optimistic while facing the reality that the situation might not get better.

The weekend forecast is calling only for hit-and-miss scattered showers.

"I think we can keep them supplied," he says. "It's just going to be rough."

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