South Georgia crops benefit from recent rains - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia crops benefit from recent rains

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

July 14, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Could Georgia be breaking out of its record breaking drought? State Climatologists say thunderstorms several days a week seem to be showing the drought recovery process is in motion.

Mark Daniel's peanuts look promising, and he credits the recent rain, which after years of drought he calls a blessing. Daniel said "Friday in one hour we received four inches of rain. That's more than I ever recall in my whole life."

Assistant State Climatologist Pam Knox said that recent afternoon thundershowers will break Georgia's drought cycle. Moisture in the soil will evaporate, and provide the moisture needed to develop new storms. Knox said just as the drought kept the dry air in place, now these rains will keep the afternoon showers in place. Daniel said "I hope they are right. Because it sure is nice to get a good rain. It makes you feel better, and it helps your bottom line."

The rain showers gave most South Georgia irrigation systems the last couple of days off, and farmers did not have to burn four dollar a gallon diesel fuel to pump them.

Water Resource leaders say the summer showers have recharged the aquifers, streams, and ponds,  during a crop cycle when water is most critical.  

Hooks Hanner Environmental Resource Center Deputy Executive Director Dave Eigenberger said "This time of year the peanuts, the cotton, and the corn is just finishing out. So anytime we get significant rainfall like the last couple of days, it helps the crops, and it takes a lot of pressure off the farmers."  

Daniel said "It needs about 1 and a half or two inches of water a week, to get good pod formation and peanuts to fill out. So getting all the rain we just had is a great time for this peanut field right here."

But many South Georgians say they are not ready to say the drought is over.  Eigenberger said "They always say, we're only hours away from the next drought or flood in Southwest Georgia."

But farmers say crops are already showing the benefits rain brings. While farmers enjoy the rain, water conservation leaders say this provides a great opportunity for Georgia to take the lead in developing water usage plans for future droughts.

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