By Glenn Holman
Traditionally, Good Friday is the day when farmers begin planting their spring crops. This year, dry conditions are hindering some of their efforts.
“It's been the driest month in awhile we've had, and I don't have my ground ready,” said John M. “Jake” Caldwell, a Mount Vernon Road farmer.
Caldwell said he usually plants okra, tomatoes and purple hull peas after Good Friday to sell to the public and butterbeans for his own use.
“Normally, you know you can plant most anything after Good Friday. I'm going to plant it regardless of when I do it,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell planted string beans about 10 days ago, but too many days have passed and the vegetables have not sprouted. He will have to replant them, he said.
“They need to be up now. Some beans may still come up, but I doubt it.”
According to Accuweather.com, through 5 p.m. Wednesday, Tupelo has received 0.42 inches of rain this month. The normal precipitation amount for the month to date is 1.22 inches. The year-to-date rainfall is 15.18 inches, while the normal year to date is 17.53 inches.
Tupelo received 3.06 inches of rain in January, 6.46 inches in February and 5.68 inches in March. Close to half the total 2004 rainfall occurred in February alone.
“The ground moisture is in good shape; it is surface moisture that needs to be replenished,” said Stanley Wise with Union County Extension Service.
Union all right so far
Union County received 0.4 inches of rain Wednesday night in the south, but the northern part is still dry.
“We did receive some showers, which will allow planting to continue,” Wise said.
Farmers began planting corn about two weeks ago, and it is coming up fine. If more rain is not received by this weekend, soybean and cotton farmers will be affected because April is their prime planting month.
xs”Our farmers are still in good shape. We hope to get rain this weekend,” Wise said. “If we continue 10 days without rain, then we could have concerns. We're not in an emergency yet, though.”
Wise noted that the recent cold night temperatures have not limited farmers yet.
Soil temperatures are about 55 or 60 degrees and corn needs 50 degrees to be planted; soybeans, 55; and cotton, 65.
Because of the dry weather, Caldwell has not been able to get his ground ready for planting.
The okra and butterbeans will need to be planted in the next few days, but he said he never plants the peas until about the first of June.
“I wait until the insects have laid their eggs and then they will die,” Caldwell said. “That way, I don't have beetles on my peas like a lot of people do.”