The recent rains (November 29 and 30) was a very welcome site to many across the Southeast. Here are some thoughts on the drought and the rains we received:
I heard on the radio and news reports that the rains will help the firefighters with the fires in North Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. The report also stated that many more days would be needed to help totally put the fires out. So the rains helped with the fires a little. Along with the rain, the winds before the rain, potentially spread the flames even more. The ground could even be charred to a point that the soil is slightly or more severely hydrophobic. This condition will not allow the soils to absorb the rain and erosion could actually be a problem.
From a livestock aspect, Pam Knox shared a post by Dr. Dennis Hancock discussing if the rains will help livestock farmers who want to plant forages at this late date. The post and link to Dr. Hancock’s post can be found here.
For fruit and vegetable farmers, the drought may not have effected them very much since most of the crops are irrigated with drip irrigation under plastic. If the water supply was adequate, past yields should not have suffered, but if the source of the irrigation water was a pond, then the supply may be a little limited for coming crops. If the source is a pond that has a large watershed feeding the pond, these rains could be beneficial in refilling the pond as well as refilling the soil profile to help the farmers plant some crops or be able to better work the land in preparation for the next crop.
For row crop farmers, the rain could be both a good thing and a bad thing. I was talking with one of our county agents and the rain will help the peanut farmer dig the last of the peanuts, but for the cotton farmer (somethings one in the same) could cause problems with harvesting cotton. But overall the rain will be good to help refill the soil profile and the irrigation ponds. If these farmers use cover crops, this rain will help the seed planted to have moisture to start growing and hopefully have some water in the soil profile to help the cover continue to grow until we get more rain. The total biomass may not be as high as it would be if they planted it earlier, but biomass at the beginning of planting season will help build soil organic matter.
For the homeowner, it would not help much with those lawns that have summer grasses that have most likely already gone into dormancy for the winter, but for those that have winter grass, this rain should help get it started growing. If water is needed and the homeowner is on supplied water other than a personnel well and the home is located in the designated Level 2 drought area, be aware of the watering restrictions. Information on the Level 2 Drought Designation can be found on the November 17th Water at UGA Blog.
Overall, the recent rains can be a blessing to help with the fires, provides water to refill the soil profile and ponds and helps germinate seeds for many different operations. However, we are not out of the drought and more rain will be needed to help refill the soil profile and water holding structures such as ponds and reservoirs.
For more information on the drought please contact your local County Extension Office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1.