FARMERS: 'We're needing some rain'

KIRKVILLE COMMUNITY – Douglas Kitchens woke up Monday morning to the sound of thunder.
It came as a relief to the Itawamba County farmer, whose crops have already suffered because of the lack of rain.
But he was woefully disappointed when he went outside at 5:30 a.m. to get his newspaper.
“There wasn’t a bit of water,” he said, shaking his head. “We’re needing some rain.”
Across the region, farmers are switching gears from having too much rain early in the season to not enough now in the middle of the season.
According to Luigi Romolo, cities like Corinth are almost 10 inches below normal rainfall for the year. However, none of Northeast Mississippi is categorized as abnormally dry or in a drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
“It’s dry,” said Romolo, who works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southern Regional Climate Center. “It’s not dire dry yet.”
The lack of water comes a few weeks after cities around the region, such as Oxford, Corinth, Tupelo and Aberdeen, reported above-average rainfall. The heavy rain in May delayed planting and even caused some farmers to change their crop mix.
Stanley Wise, the Union County director for the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said his county has little corn because the ground didn’t dry in time for planting.
“The crops we have are progressing very well,” Wise said. “The crops seem to be holding up because of the earlier rain and the soil moisture.”
Kitchens and his son, Brent, said they were lucky with their corn in Itawamba County. They capitalized on a break in the weather and got their 40 acres of corn planted by May 20, much later than the usual May 1-10 planting window.
The day after it rained, Brent Kitchens said the field got about 2 inches of rain.
Then the skies cleared up.
Tupelo, Romolo said, collected only 2.91 inches of rain from May 26 until Sunday at the airport. The figure is 4.63 inches below normal.
The rain that was tallied came in two days, meaning Tupelo had two days of rain in a month and a half. As of Sunday night, Tupelo was 5.12 inches below the average rainfall for the year. Monday, 0.06 inches were reported at the airport.
Both NWS meteorologist Chris Duke and Romolo cautioned that rainfall totals can vary in different parts of an area.
“Especially this time of year, you might be driving in one part of town and it’s raining and it’s not on the other side of town,” Romolo said.
The Kitchenses can vouch for the varied nature of the rain. Some of their 1,350 acres caught a few rains, while others didn’t.
Douglas Kitchens said his corn fields are taking the brunt of the dry spell. He’s expecting 40 to 50 bushels an acre of corn. Last year, he harvested about 100 bushels.
“It’s already cut 50 percent even if it rains every day,” Kitchens said.
The family’s soybeans and cotton fields are looking good, though.
“Cotton’s tough,” said Brent Kitchens. “It’ll hang in there. Cotton in a dry year will take it.”
Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.

Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal