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Exceptional drought expands in AL and GA; severe drought increases in SC

As expected, the latest Drought Monitor map released this morning has shown expansion of drought in all Southeastern states except Virginia and North Carolina, although abnormally dry conditions did expand in NC.  Exceptional (D4) drought expanded in Alabama and South Carolina and a new strip of central Georgia, where they have had essentially no rain for weeks.  The entire state of Alabama is now in drought.  Severe (D3) drought expanded to cover much of upstate South Carolina.  Unfortunately, there is little chance of rain in the next week and temperatures will be well above normal, leading to another likely increase in drought designation for next week’s DM.

Jeff Cook, ANR extension agent in Taylor and Peach County in central Georgia, noted that the Drought Impact Reporter did not seem to be working and sent on this report:

Dry weather has impacted agronomic crops and forages season long.  Dry weather early led to erratic stands and poor residual weed control.  We experienced several week to 2 week periods with little to no rainfall.  Most crops require at least 1″ of rainfall per week early in the season with water requirements increasing as we begin flowering and fruiting. 

 If you just look at the rainfall totals it does not look as bad as it truly is.  Many of the rain events that added to the total rain for the year came in rain events of 1-2″.  When you get heavy rains in one event much will runoff and be unavailable for crops.

 I have been County Agent for 16 years and I have never seen drought conditions like this season.  For example I just visited a peanut field that was completely dead due to dry weather and spider mites.  Conditions are so dry that even irrigated crops have suffered.  I have seen soybeans that will easily produce less than 5 bushels per acre.  Cotton that is less than 300 pounds per acre and peanuts that not only had reduced yields, but were classified as seg 3 at the buying point due to aflatoxin.  Other loads are being rejected due to excessive damage from dry weather.

 Most hay producers struggled to get 1 good cutting and there is no grass for livestock to graze.  The drought has also made it impossible to establish winter grazing. 

 Although it is not very large in my area the landscaping industry has been hit very hard with very little need for lawn care, and nurseries are suffering as well because nobody wants to plant in these conditions.

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