It’s been a very dry May across the Southeast so far. I was driving back to Athens from Quincy FL today and noted the large plumes of dust behind the tractors out planting in the fields in southwest Georgia. The radar-based precipitation map from the National Weather Service shows that many areas have received no rain at all this month. The Lawn and Garden Moisture Index from AgroClimate shows that many areas are in the range of -1.5 to -2.0, indicating that rainfall or irrigation is needed to help protect lawns and crops.
Some of the Extension agents have commented this week on the need for rain. Andy Shirley of Mitchell County posted a blog on calculating the amount of water needed for corn at https://site.extension.uga.edu/mitchellag/2015/05/water-needed-in-corn/. Calvin Perry, the superintendent at UGA’s Stripling Irrigation Park, noted that right now corn needs about 1/4 inch a day (the amount depends on the planting date and current growth stage). With almost no rain so far this month, and less than an inch forecast for the next week in many areas, irrigation will be needed to help the corn maintain its yield potential. Calvin also noted that you need to factor in the efficiency of your irrigation system when computing how much water you need to use for irrigation. By comparison, Jay Hathorn posted an article (https://site.extension.uga.edu/nochaway/2015/05/early-season-irrigation-for-peanuts/) in the Nochaway Ag Update on peanuts, noting that the recent dry weather has been great for farmers getting their peanut fields planted and that early in the life cycle of peanuts not much water is needed.