By Clint Thompson
Hot and dry conditions appear to be the norm for the Southeast over the next month according to Pam Knox, University of Georgia Extension Agricultural Climatologist. That is not good news for dryland farmers who depend on rainfall to provide moisture. It is also sobering news for producers since irrigation will once again play a vital role in this year’s crops, like cotton, peanuts and corn.
“If you look over about the next month, it looks like the predictions are for us to be warmer than usual and also maybe normal to below-normal rainfall. Summertime rain is really hit or miss rain. Some places will get more than others, it just depends where the thunderstorms go. But overall, with the high temperatures, we’re going to see a lot of stress on the plants because the evapotranspiration rates are pretty high,” said Pam Knox, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Agricultural Climatologist. “You can start to see, at least along the Georgia Weather Network that soils are really drying out. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
“It’s possible that we could go into a short-term flash drought. Now, we’re not even considered abnormally dry at this point. It’s not clear how bad it will get. It just looks like it’ll be a dry period for the next month or so.”
Knox also stressed that producers cannot expect relief from the tropics this time of year.
“Quite often, you get a little bit of an early activity in June and then it dies down until about mid-August when things really start to ramp up. I don’t think we’re going to see a lot of relief from tropical systems for the next month. As we get more into the tropical season, I think that will change,” Knox said.
Also, there is the increasing likelihood that we will experience a La Nina weather event.
“Typically, when we have a La Nina occurring, and right now we’re under a La Nina watch, the conditions in the Eastern Pacific Ocean are cooler than normal and they’re expected to stay that way. Usually it takes four months before they’ll declare an official La Nina. We’re in the right mode, we just haven’t been in it long enough yet to really say,” Knox said. “It’s not clear how strong of a La Nina it’s going to be. The predictions are it might last until January or February and then go back to neutral conditions. It’s not necessarily one that’s going to be really long. Sometimes they last for multiple years, but we don’t see any sign of that at this point.
“When we do have a La Nina, we do tend to have a little bit drier than normal fall. Dryness in the fall isn’t necessarily bad. It’s helpful for the people that’s trying to harvest. It’s just that if you’re trying to fill in the last of the pecans or get a little more growth out of the peanuts then dry conditions are not necessarily good.”