Digging Deeper: Rains come too late? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Digging Deeper: Rains come too late?

As much as five inches of rain fell across south Georgia last weekend, but for some farms it was too late.

A lack of rainfall in June when many crops were starting to come up, caused widespread damage and crop loss.

While this past weekends rains will likely keep irrigation pivots idle, unless rain showers continue, it will be short lived.

Irrigation pivots in many south Georgia fields got their first break in a long time. We found dozens stopped in their tracks thanks to soaking weekend rains.

"Oh, it was great, it was just what we needed," said Lee County Agent Doug Collins.

In Lee County farmers saw a much as three inches of rain. "This should last for at least a week, we often say we're no more than seven days away from a drought and depending on the soil type that's about right," Collins said.

Right now crops, including cotton, peanuts, and soybeans need about two inches of rain a week. Digging deeper we learned a lack of rainfall last month has cost some farmers plenty, especially those with cotton and peanuts in the field.

"We had emergence problems in some fields and some fields the cotton never really came up at all. We've had some cotton fields that had spotty emergence," said Collins.

This past weekend's slow moving, widespread rainfall was more beneficial than the scattered showers we've seen, it improved stream and river levels, nearly doubling some, but it's not a drought breaker.

"No question, we are still in a drought situation, when I speak to the levels trending up, they're low but we've kind of, we've dampened that decline that we saw from April through the first of July," said Mark Masters of the Flint River Planning & Policy Center.

It was a decline that took levels to record lows, and one that will take more than nine inches since the first of the month to improve.

"We are seeing a little bit of a trend up in the Floridan. It will take a little bit long period of time and more of those concentrated rainfall events to see recharge in the deeper aquifers like the Clayton" said Masters.

How long these irrigation pivots remain dry will depend on whether we continue to see those afternoon showers, if we revert back to conditions we saw at the beginning of June these pivots will be back on in no time.  

Water experts say we need to continue to see afternoon showers through the end of summer just to stay on pace with water levels. A tropical system would still be what it would take to break the drought. We won't get a full recharge of the system until winter.


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