Spotty rain and hot temps are taking toll on crops

COTTON IS WILTING from drought stress in northern Grady County as this photograph taken Tuesday illustrates.

Spotty rainfall and record high temperatures in July have begun to cause stress to some crops, particularly cotton and peanuts across the state of Georgia.
Grady County Extension Agent Don Clark recalls a 10-day to two week period last July in which frequent showers created a cooling effect and brought temperatures down to the low nineties. “The low nineties would be refreshing right now,” says Clark.
Overall, he says the county has received adequate rainfall in July. “But for the past two weeks, especially in the northern part of the county, it has been very dry,” noting that cotton is beginning to wilt in areas north of the county that lack irrigation.
“The dry weather is really affecting a lot of our crops where they are not receiving the rain. But up until mid July, we we’re getting rains pretty often most everywhere in the county. But since about the 15th of July, there has been a lot of areas in the northern part of the county that have missed the rain.”
Clark says if cotton continues to “go into a wilt” every afternoon for the next two to three weeks due to lack of precipitation, the result will be a reduction in yield. “It will abort some of the fruit, and other boles won’t size up as big,” he says.
“In the past two or three weeks, I would hear of a rain from over an inch to two inches in the Calvary area, and then when you get to the northern part of the county you would get no rain, or 3/10 to 4/10 of an inch. So it has been uneven. We’ve had some areas get plenty of rain, and other areas have been short.”
According to Clark, the corn planted in the first half of the corn-planting season is completely dried down and harvesting has begun. The “brown” corn stalks in the fields need to be dried down to 15-16 percent (moisture in the grain) before harvesting unless the farmer is using a corn drier to “dry it down,” explains Clark.
“Most of our corn is left to dry in the field. But the farmers who have corn driers can begin harvesting corn at 25 percent moisture,” Clark notes.  
Georgia State Assistant Climatologist Pam Knox reports, “temperatures across the state were warmer than normal everywhere in Georgia this July, continuing the heat we felt in June. The record highest daily temperature for Cairo in July is 101 set on July 15, 1932, and again July 31 of this past month.
“There were many individual station records for temperature in July.  Record high temperatures were set in Athens (103 on the 26th breaking the old record of 101 from 1925), Columbus (99 on the 26th and 102 on the 31st), Savannah (102 set on the 26th breaking the old record of 102 from 1986), and Brunswick (99 set on the 30th breaking the old record of 98 set in 1961).“

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