While west Kentucky may not have been as hard hit as other areas, farmers across the commonwealth are feeling the impact of the driest September since the 1800s.

A week ago, more than half of Kentucky was listed in the severe drought category by the U.S. Drought Monitor and some areas of southeastern Kentucky were in the extreme drought category.

According to Matthew Dixon, agricultural meteorologist for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, that marked the first time since 2016 that any portion of the state was in the extreme category.

"Impacts on the agricultural side are numerous and unfortunately, we'll start seeing some longer-term impacts of this drought," Dixon said.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor listings have six Purchase counties -- Ballard, Carlisle, Hickman, McCracken, Graves and Calloway -- either all or mostly in the moderate drought category. Fulton and Marshall counties are listed as abnormally dry.

"West Kentucky is much better than central and eastern Kentucky," said Chad Lee, UK extension agronomist. "Double crop soybeans in your area were hurt the worst by the dry weather. In central and eastern Kentucky, some later-planted corn was badly hurt by the drought. Some full season soybeans were hurt as well."

In Ballard County, "Corn harvest is almost completed," according to Tom Miller, ag extension agent. "Single crop soybean harvest is in full swing, and the double crop beans are changing and drying down fast.

"The corn crop was very good -- not a record -- but still a high yield. The problem was too much water (earlier). Many of the historically better-yielding areas of the field (because of the ability to hold water in dry years) were just overcome with water resulting poor stands, slow growth and a loss of nitrogen," he said.

"Then, about the end of August, the faucet turned off and it became about as dry as I have ever seen it in such a short time."

According to Miller, early soybean yields are very good but as harvest goes on, the yields keep dropping.

"These are still good yields but I think everyone is a little disappointed at what might have been," he said. "The corn was generally done by the time the water shut off while the soybeans were still trying to put on some yield, so the top was taken off the soybean crop."

The corn and soybean harvest is progressing well in Graves County, according to ag extension agent Samantha Anderson.

"Corn harvest is nearing conclusion while soybean harvest is getting off (to a start)," she said. "Most tobacco has been cut and is now in barns. An early 'guesstimate' for corn yield would be in the ballpark of 190 to 210 bushels per acre."

The recent drought has impacted livestock producers a great deal, according to Anderson.

"With dry conditions, hay shortages are a possibility for some producers. Heat stress in livestock is always a concern as well without adequate shade and water access," she said.

"Thankfully, with the projection for more fall-like weather in the coming weeks, we have the chance to see some relief from high temperatures."

However, while the break in temperatures will provide some relief, "it is important to be mindful of the potential for frost conditions that could impact sensitive crops, as well as home and landscape ornamentals," Anderson said.

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