An outline of the state of Georgia showing areas of drought impact.
Two-thirds of Georgia is experiencing D2 (severe) to D4 (exceptional) drought. The northwest counties have been in continual severe drought for 23 weeks. Image from U.S. Drought Monitor, National Drought Mitigation Center, October 27, 2016.

Heather Kolich, ANR Agent, UGA Extension Forsyth County

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, two-thirds of the state is experiencing D2 (severe) to D4 (exceptional) drought levels. The northwest counties have been in continuous severe drought for 23 weeks. In updates last week, climatologists from Alabama and Georgia indicated that we can expect drought conditions to persist for another three months.

October to early November is normally the time to reseed tall fescue lawns and pastures. Fall is also – usually – the best time to plant trees and shrubs. With our soil dry as mummy dust and no rain in the forecast, however, be prepared to provide irrigation where you plant. Despite the EPD’s drought declaration, the Water Stewardship Act is still in effect. This allows irrigation of new plantings for 30 days, and watering of established plants between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m.

Although established perennial plants don’t need much water during the winter, the root systems continue to grow even when the above-ground parts of the plant are dormant. It’s also important to keep some moisture around the crowns of warm-season grass species to avoid desiccation of the plants. Through November, continue to provide ½ inch of rain weekly to lawns and landscape plants in the absence of rainfall. Continue to monitor plants and irrigate as necessary into December.

Because the dry summer stalled the growth of perennial grasses, they may not have built up carbohydrate reserves in the root system. UGA Turfgrass Specialist Clint Waltz warns that a consequence of poor carbohydrates stores this year may be failure to green-up next spring.

Drought also affects stream flow and groundwater levels, which in turn, can affect the level of water in wells. Indications that your well is not keeping up with water demand include a drop in water pressure and cloudy or silty water.

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