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Drought Puts Drag On Nursery Businesses

Posted at 5:54 PM, Nov 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-03 18:54:01-04

Nestled between some of Tennessee's most beautiful geography, rural landscapes lend to some of the best growing soil in the nation near McMinnville. 

"We're in a microclimate so to speak. If you notice the mountains to our east and the Cumberland Plateau, our little area right here is kind of the sweet spot for growing lots of varieties of trees and shrubs," nursery owner, Jerry Blankenship, said. 

At the Blankenship Farm and Nursery, hundreds of species of plants have been grown on 150 acres. However, this year's drought, beginning in the summer, caused a bit of business to dry up.

"We didn't really get the growth we anticipated on a lot of our plants, and then as the fall progressed, we just kept waiting on… when is it going to rain so we can start digging?" Blankenship asked. 

They're still waiting on that rain. In the meantime they've had to go to plan B to make sure their plants can turn to profit. Employees have been watering all the plants days before they're dug from the ground, which has meant a lot of water and extra labor. 

Typically the Blankenships load up three semis full of plants in one day. That number has been down to about two semis a week. "Which is less than 20 percent of what we typically do," Blankenship said. 

They have had high hopes of turning this dry season around but could use a big helping hand. "There's nothing like a good rain from Mother Nature," Blankenship said.