The lack of significant rainfall so far this year forced State officials to declare a drought emergency in 42 of West Virginia's 55 counties yesterday, including Calhoun.

The declaration by Gov. Joe Manchin opens the door to possible federal funding help for state farmers>

The declaration will be forwarded to the United States Department of Agriculture, which will make assistance decisions based on available resources and the severity of conditions from here on out.

Agriculture producers of all types in the state have been adversely affected by the dry weather, according to State Ag Commissioner Gus Douglas.

"We have to go back to 1939 to find a drier May than we had this year," he said.

Western counties appear to be hit the hardest, with most receiving less than an inch of rain in May. The average rainfall is four to five inches.

Farmers are being forced to haul water and the hay crop is 20% to 50% off.

"All indications are that there will be no second crop," said Douglas. "If you can find sweet corn, you'd better enjoy it."

The news for farmers isn't as bad as in the past, much of it is covered by insurance.

Counties included in the drought declaration are:

Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Brooke, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Marion, Marshall, Mason, Mingo, Monongalia, Nicholas, Ohio, Pleasants, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Randolph, Ritchie, Roane, Summers, Taylor, Tucker, Tyler, Upshur, Wayne, Webster, Wetzel, Wirt, Wood and Wyoming.