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Hot, dry and dusty
No rain in sight for the next week
W 052411 HEAT 03
Hot weather is stressing crops, such as this field of corn on Pretoria-Rushing Road, in Bulloch County. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Weather experts predict a normal summer for South Georgia, but if things don’t change soon, Bulloch County could remain hot and dry.
    According to information from an unnamed  “cooperative observer” in Brooklet who voluntarily sends daily weather data to the National Weather Service in Charleston, SC,  that area of the county only received .22 inches of rain in May, compared to 4.17 inches last year, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jonathan Lamb.
    Normal rainfall for that month in the Bulloch County area would be 3.44 inches, he said.
    He didn’t have any good news for farmers or those hoping for rain soon. “It’s going to be hot pretty much through the end of next week,” he said. Temperatures will hover from the mid to high 90s, and no precipitation is in sight.
    “There is no real significant system that we’re expecting in the next few days, he said. “We’re in a really dry pattern, and when it’s this hot, usually there’s not going to be much rain.”
    There is always the possibility of localized thunderstorms brewing, however, he added.
    Bulloch farmer Terry Gerrald would like to see some of those thunderstorms. The heat and drought are “tough right now, especially on row crops, “he said. “We’re having a problem trying to get the cotton in.”
    He has been irrigating his corn “day and night,” and when it has rained in his area near Clito, he has taken advantage of the blessing and planted what he could.
    Bulloch County Agent Wes Harris said farmers all over are hurting for moisture.
    “May is when we do most of our planting,” he said. “It’s hard to put cotton in dry dirt. We very much dislike that technique.”
    Farmers have until June 7 to plant peanuts that will be insured, and although one deadline for planting cotton was May 31, farmers can plant until June 15. However, “the indemnity level decreased every day up to the 15th,” he said.
    Irrigated corn is surviving well, and prices promise to remain high, he said. “We have very little dryland corn” planted in Bulloch, but where there is non-irrigated corn fields, the plants are twisting to conserve moisture.
    The drought has hurt other crops, though. The impact on hay is “absolute devastation,” Harris said. “The first cutting of hay is pretty much gone. It’s a tough situation we’re having to deal with.”
    Irrigation is saving a lot of farmers who would suffer massive losses otherwise, he said. “We have more capacity to irrigate than we did 10 years ago.”
    Still, even with irrigation, farmers are still looking skyward in hopes of rain.
    “We need rain, and we need it good and quick,” Gerrald said. “We’ve been praying, and most farmers have been praying for a month.”
   
    Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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