If one were to drive across Bulloch County, it might be obvious that some areas have experienced good rainfall this year, while others have not.
A healthy corn field may be seen on one country road while the field a mile away stands abandoned due to drought. The “scattered thunderstorms” that have dumped inches of water on some areas of the county missed other areas, where crops became parched and withered.
Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn said he has noticed that crops in some areas seem to be affected by dry weather, while other crops in different places appear to be well-watered.
“Rainfall has been scattered,” he said. The “pop-up” thunderstorms have blessed farmers in some sections of the county while others have remained dry.
“According to (Internet website) usda.gov, northern Bulloch County is in a drought condition and southern Bulloch County is in a moderate drought.”
Measurements of rainfall at the Bulloch County Public Safety center on Hwy. 301 North show rainfall of about 30 inches, where 45 inches would be the normal rainfall for the year, he said.
Bulloch County Extension agent Bill Tyson said overall, most Bulloch County crops are faring the weather well, with the exception of some corn fields.
Irrigated corn ended up handling hot weather better than dryland corn.
“Corn started out good, but hot weather affected pollenation in some areas,” he said. “We got plenty of rain in some areas, but it was spotty. Some areas have been on the dry side.”
In some fields, abandoned corn crops, obviously having suffered from the drought, stand covered in high weeds that almost tower over the stunted corn plants.
Cotton is looking pretty good county-wide, depending on when it was planted, Tyson said. Some fields “need some water on them,” and areas where there has been adequate rainfall are showing slight, normal problems with insects and disease — challenges all farmers face at some time, he said.
The areas showing the most crop damage due to dry weather include "Leefield, Register and the Westside area,” he said. “But so far, no one has had any problems with too much rain,” in spite of it being time to harvest corn, when dry weather is desired.
Peanuts and soybeans are also doing well across the county, with peanut harvest approaching for some fields planted early. Dry weather is needed during peanut harvest time as well, so the nuts can dry out after being dug and overturned before they are harvested.
More farmers planted sorghum this year, too, Tyson said. The reason for this is “sorghum handles dry weather better than corn.”
According to www.cropquest.com, “research has shown that grain sorghum will begin to produce grain at a threshold of approximately seven inches of water use … For corn, the minimum threshold increases to approximately 11 inches of water… below 21 inches, grain sorghum is expected to out-yield corn by a slim margin.”
The possibility of heavy rainfall from upcoming tropical storms could affect peanut and corn harvest, Tyson said. “We don’t need a tropical storm at this point.”
Wynn said Tropical Storm Erika could reach landfall Monday and the Bulloch County area could experience some bands of rain from the system between that time and the middle of the week.
“Tropical storm Erika could impact the United States as early as Monday morning as a Category One hurricane,” he said Wednesday in an email sent to county employees and media outlets. “The projected path has it very close to south Florida early Monday. ...however, the path could change as it is still very early to be certain.”
Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.