Heavy rainfall affecting crops, rivers

Published 10:35 am Tuesday, August 27, 2013

If 2010 was remembered as the year it snowed in Bainbridge, 2013 may be remembered as the year it rained and rained.

With four months still to go, Bainbridge has an estimated year-to-date rainfall of about 70 inches, according to the U.S. Geological Service. That’s about 13 inches more than the 2012 total and 37 inches more than in the dry year of 2011, when the city only had 33 inches.

We’ve had 100 rainy days out of 239 days in the year through August 26, according to the University of Georgia’s Attapulgus Research station.

Bainbridge had around 13.52 inches of rain during the month of July alone, according to the National Weather Service’s Tallahassee, Fla., office.

Bainbridge received at least two inches of rain just from last Thursday and Friday, and 10.21 inches for the month of August, according to the U.S.G.S.

In addition to being making dirt roads muddy and causing some inconvenience for outdoor recreation, the rain is also having an impact on agriculture, the “life blood” of Decatur County.

“[How weather is affecting the crops] is a big concern for us, we talk about it all day,” said Tommy Dollar, CEO of Dollar Farm Products. “Normally, by this time we would be finished with harvesting the corn, but we’ve still got about two weeks left because of the rain.”

The delay on corn is largely due to the way that tractor combines harvest the corn, Dollar explained. The wet conditions have caused some of the corn kernels to sprout, which can result in damage to the corn unless the combine speed is slowed down significantly, he said.

After Friday’s torrential rain stopped, drier, warmer weather has prevailed since, which farmers need right now.

“We could use about two more weeks of dry weather like we had on Tuesday, so that we can finish up the corn harvest,” Dollar said.

The wet weather will probably also affect the start of the peanut and cotton harvests.

“With peanuts being in the ground, too much rain can adversely affect them, but I think we’ll be alright as long as we don’t have more heavy rain,” said Dollar, whose Dothan Road plant is a major peanut buying point.

Peanut harvesting would normally begin around the 1st week of September, will probably start about 10 days later than usual, as will the cotton harvest at the start of October, Dollar predicted.

“The quality of the cotton crop hasn’t been affected too much by the rain,” Dollar said. “Warm weather makes the cotton bolls open up closer to harvest time, but we’ve had relatively cooler weather during the recent rain.”

 

Rainfall

The heavy rain this spring and summer have virtually wiped out the drought conditions Georgia had been experiencing in recent years.

Only the southwest corner of the state, in an area roughly between Valdosta and Brunswick, was recording less rainfall than its annual average.

Donalsonville has recorded 64.1 inches of rain this year through August 26. That figure is 25.1 inches more than the annual average of 39.1 inches between 1971-2001.

Attapulgus recorded 49.5 inches of rainfall this year, through August 26. That figure is 9.4 inches more than the annual average of 40.1 inches between 1971-2001.

Camilla is 9.8 inches above its annual rainfall average, while Cairo is 6.5 inches above its average. Albany, which has had 60.5 inches of rain, is 21.8 inches above its annual average.

Soil moisture calculations show a similar tale. While Texas, California and most of the United States west of the Missisippi have been very dry this year, the Southeastern United States and the Northeast have been wetter than usual.

 

Rivers

The Spring Creek near Iron City rose to a high but not-quite-flooding level of 15 feet on August 22, has gone back down to 13.3 feet, although it receding slowly. The creek rose to 20.75 feet, its second highest recorded level, back in the spring of 2009.

The Flint River rose to 22.96 feet on August 22, just a couple of feet short of its 25-foot flood stage. It has since gone down to 20.46 as of Tuesday.

There’s a small chance, about five to 25 percent, that the Flint River could reach its flood stage of 25 feet sometime in the first week October, according to a forecast from the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service. However, the forecast is based on a simulation of conditions that were present on August 14.