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Bulloch farmers hoping for rain within next 10 days
Peanut pouring
In this Herald file photo, harvested green peanuts are poured into a bucket and then mesh bags before being taken to be washed and then either sold or boiled. In anticipation of Brooklet's annual Peanut Festival Aug. 16, the green peanut harvest on Lloyd and Deanna Stricklan's Bulloch County farm began about three weeks ago. - photo by Herald File
    Bulloch County farmers are looking to the skies in hopes rain will fall, knowing if there is no precipitation over the next 10 days, their crops could suffer.
    With today's heat index expected to rise to 114 degrees Fahrenheit in some places across the region, the heat combined with the lack of rain is taking its toll. And even if it does rain, some crops could go into shock if the cool raindrops fell onto plants still overheated by the high temperatures and humidity, said Bulloch County Extension Agent Wes Harris.
    Cotton needs to be able to cool down overnight, but with nighttime temperatures still remaining high, this isn't happening, he said.
    "Cotton is what we're worried about," he said. "It needs to be able to cool down at night so the plant can recuperate."
    But if rain fell today, "it would be like somebody throwing cold water on your when you were hot," he said. "Shock will affect the plant."
    An afternoon thunderstorm would be welcome by most, and is possible, according to However, according to that Web site, thunderstorms could bring sudden temperature changes from searing heat (the temperature today is expected to be well over 100 degrees, with a local heat index of 110 degrees) to the high 70s and 80s.
    That sudden change could hurt the cotton, Harris said.
    But the rain will be welcome by soybean and peanut farmers, who need a little more good rain in order to have a good crop, he said.
    "We're on the proverbial fence right now," he said. "We have the potential to make decent crops if we get rain soon."
    The heat saps crops and although some Bulloch area farmers — especially in  the northwestern quadrant of the county — have been getting some decent rain, more is needed, he said. "It's not dire at this point, and some areas are worse than others, but things can go down pretty quick."
    Corn has pretty much done what it is going to do and approaches harvest condition. Irrigated corn is looking very promising, he said.
    Peanuts can handle heat  better than other crops, but a little rain "over the next few days" wouldn't hurt, although when farmers begin digging peanuts, they will hope the rain holds off while the legumes dry.
    Soybeans have "canopied out" and are holding their own, with the exception of late-planted beans, Harris said. Those are showing signs of suffering.
    Hay crops were looking good and farmers were hoping to recover from several years of hay shortage due to dry weather, but if more rain doesn't arrive soon, the third and fourth cuttings could be affected, he said.
    If the weather forecast for the weekend holds — said there is a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms today and a 60 percent chance Friday, with  more possible over the weekend — then local crops should fare well, Harris said.
    Scattered thunderstorms are predicted to extend into the upcoming week as well, according to the Web site, which also warns of a heat advisory.
    This means the humidity paired with high temperatures could increase the heat index, which endangers people and animals. The site offers suggestions to deal with the heat, including drinking plenty of fluids, staying in air conditioned rooms, checking on those who are outside or have no air conditioning, and making sure pets and livestock have a cool place to stay with plenty of fresh cool water.
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