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Corn farmers seek good year. hope for rain soon

With the wet-weather pattern El Nino moving into the drier La Nina pattern, and expected to turn to a neutral weather pattern, the future of Bulloch County's crops is up in the air.
    The El Nino pattern, which was present last fall and winter, is supposed to bring plenty of rainfall. The La Nina pattern is dry, but National Weather Service meteorologist Vern Beaver said the weather is moving into an unusual "neutral pattern."
    Farmers are hopeful rains will come soon, because dry weather has delayed planting of corn in some areas.
    The subsoil moisture content is still good, said Bulloch County Extension Agent Pat Todd. "It's not really and yet, but people have stopped planting corn."
    Farmers hope for a profitable year for corn, with the interest in ethanol, although the cost of fertilizer and diesel fuel has risen sharply, he said. But the rains are vital to the crop's success.
    Those who irrigate have likely gone on with planting corn, but others are keeping an eye to the sky, looking for the rainfall that is expected next week.
    "There seems to be a good cloud over Metter and Portal way," said farmer Lloyd Strickland Thursday afternoon.
    His corn is already planted. "We got it in early, and it's up good," he said. But if the rains don't come, he may be forced to irrigate. The dry weather "absolutely will" affect corn crops.
    If the dry weather during the neutral weather pattern continues, "I will have to pump more (irrigation) water," Strickland said. "It will cost more, and I'd much rather not crank up the pump."
    With irrigation or with rain, there is still time to get corn planted, Todd said. But if the rains don't come, a lot of people may take their corn seed back and decide upon another crop, he said.
     Todd said he hopes the moisture will kick in and keep things going this summer.
    "I'll trade a drought right now if they'll give us rain this summer," he said.
    Beaver said there is a slight chance of rainfall in the Bulloch County area Monday.
    According to www.weather.com, scattered thunderstorms are possible for Monday and Wednesday, when there is a predicted 40 percent chance of rain.

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