HED:Hot, sunny weather raises concerns among farmers

AUTHOR: EILEEN

HED:Hot, sunny weather raises concerns among farmers

By Eileen Bailey

Daily Journal

Even though the days have been bright and sunny, Kenneth Oswalt of Plantersville has been concerned about rain – or rather the lack of it.

Oswalt and his family are farmers and their livelihood depends on the crops they harvest in the fall.

The Oswalt family has 500 acres of corn and 1,500 acres of soybeans. Because of too much rain earlier this year and a lack of rain in the last two weeks, Oswalt has been unable to plant his soybeans.

The corn has been planted and can survive for another week or so without rain but the ground has become too difficult to till and plant the beans, he said.

Rain also is needed to make the soybean seeds germinate and grow.

“This is all we have to depend on,” Oswalt said.

Oswalt and other farmers are concerned because of a recent weather trend that began about two weeks ago.

The last time Northeast Mississippi saw rain was May 7. Since that time, temperatures have soared well past normal and rainfall has been nonexistent.

“It’s not expected to move in the next couple of days,” Gaffin said. “There is not much chance of rain. There is a slight chance of thunderstorms later in the week but only a few people will experience them.”

Temperatures will rise into the 90s, which is about 10 degrees higher than normal for May, for the rest of the week.

Normal temperatures in May are about 80 to 81 degrees. Gaffin said no records have been set yet, but one was tied on Thursday at 90 degrees.

The high pressure system also has brought lower than normal rainfall amounts. As of Monday only .45 inches of rain had fallen in Tupelo. The normal rainfall for the month of May is about 5.7 inches.

“It is really not a normal pattern for May. This is a summer pattern that you expect to get later in the year,” he said.

The higher temperatures and lack of rain can be attributed to a slow-moving high pressure system that has moved over much of the South, said David Gaffin, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Memphis.

Crop forecast

And while the dry weather may not affect the corn itself, there are other things, such as weeds, to be concerned about.

Oswalt sprayed weeds growing beside his corn with a chemical about a week ago and are waiting on rain to help it along. Without the rain the weeds will grow.

This will not affect the corn, he said.

Cotton and soybeans are a different story. Cotton farmers need to have the fields planted by this week to stay on schedule with harvesting in the fall, said Jackie Courson, district program director for ag and natural resources with the Northeast Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona.

Some cotton farmers have already gotten their seeds in the ground and are waiting for a rain.

Courson said soybean farmers have until mid-June to get their seeds in the ground.

There is concern that if the seeds are planted now and there is a strong rain in the near future, the seeds could get moved or end up rotting if there is too much rain, he said.

The delay in crops could reduce the yields at the end of the season, he said.