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News Journal: Short-term drought threatens Southern Delaware crops

Fourth-generation farmer Travis Hastings found a silver lining in Hurricane Arthur's recent brush past Delaware's coast. ¶ The fast-moving tropical system dumped nearly 3 inches on Laurel Airport in two hours on July 4, enough to temporarily break an alarming dry spell and allow a shut-down of the big, pivot irrigation system running on a nearby cornfield.

"Even with that, we've been so dry we were back pumping water on some pivots on Sunday, and most of them by Monday," said Hastings, who farms about 1,500 acres in the area.

"I can't speak for every county, but around this area and Salisbury and Wicomico County, it doesn't take long for soil moisture to go away," Hastings said. "We went from extremely wet over the winter to extremely dry, and I think we went 24 days in June without rain over a tenth of an inch, so we're dry."

The story is much the same across southernmost Delaware and Maryland's Eastern Shore, as the region skirts the edge of "abnormally dry conditions" that state farm officials say could tip into a full blown and costly drought if parched conditions settle in again.

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