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Waiting for the rain to fall

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POSTED: May 3, 2007 5:02 a.m.

Pembroke farmer Hugh Lynn Page said the wacky weather over the past two months has taken a toll on his crops.

"We’re just waiting to see what happens," said Page, who had been farming his whole life. "I’ve seen some dry times but this time of the year I’ve never seen it this dry."

Page said the cold snap at the beginning of April was especially devastating to his crops.

"A dry freeze always hurts worse than a wet one," Page said. "The corn was up and the cold bit it back. We hope it’s going to come out of it."

He said his corn, which should be about 12 inches high right now is just over a few inches. Because of the dry spell Page said he still has dozens of bags of corn to pant, but cannot do it until the land gets some water. He said he’s never used irrigation before and does not plan to this year.

The cold weather and the lack of rain have also impacted his pastures where he has about 80 cows. The dry spell has kept the grass from growing in the fields, leaving the cows little to graze on.

"The grass won’t grow so we don’t have anything to feed (the cows)," he said. "We had winter grazing but that’s gone now. The pastures were beginning to come out again but the cold bit it out."

Jeff Bowen with the Georgia Forestry Commission said the Bryan County area has received only one and three-tenths of rain since March 1.

Maps on the National Weather Services’ web site show Bryan County has a rainfall deficit of between six and eight inches since the middle of January.

Jonathan Lamb, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston, S.C., said there are no accurate predictions long-term for the area regarding rainfall.

"We have a persistent upper-ridge starting on Friday and continuing through the middle of next week that essentially keeps most of the active weather systems from penetrating into the Southeast," he said. "But we have no predictions for the season with any accuracy."

Lamb did say, however, that as a new La Nina pattern develops – a time when Pacific Ocean water are at below normal temperatures, causing a more active tropical weather season – it could be a sign that rain will finally head to the Southeast.

"The only hopeful news is the fact that we are starting up with a La Nina pattern that usually indicates a source of more rain in this area for the summer months," Lamb said.

He said the tropical season starts June 1.

Until the rain comes, Page said he will rely on faith, and his faith tells him he could end up with a very healthy crop yield despite the weather.

"It’s a possibility we’ll make the best crop this year than we ever have," he said. "That’s one thing about farming…you’ve just got to have a lot of faith. If you don’t have it you better not try it."

 

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