Technically, the drought is over in Athens.
With the exception of a small corner of northern Limestone County, the area has been labeled D0 by the Drought Monitor released Thursday, meaning soil remains abnormally dry but is no longer in drought conditions, according to Chris White, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Huntsville.
But farmers are not ready to celebrate.
The county remains 6.5 inches behind on rainfall this year and — without some slow, long-lasting rains — crops will continue to struggle, White said.
Corn crops, typically harvested around the second week of August, began coming in early, said Eric Schavey, regional extension agent for northwest Alabama.
The results are gloomy: As much as 10 percent of corn acreage may be listed as “a total loss,” Schavey said, meaning it will be “bush-hogged instead of harvested.” About 60 percent of farmers will be lucky to break even on corn crops, he said, and the remainder will experience partial losses.
Although most farmers have crop insurance to secure against such losses, those policies do not cover loss of income for the farmer, Schavey said.
It will take time to catch up.
“It’s a bad season,” Schavey said. “Now they just have to get their wheat together and get it in the ground. Hopefully, they’ll get a check in June if the weather will cooperate. Time will just tell. As we get further into this corn harvest, we’ll see what’s there and what’s not.”
Soybean farmers are faring better but they are also not in the clear, Schavey said.
“Some soybeans hurting from this,” he said. “Some were put in the ground and set there for weeks without water. But some farers did replant their acreage. If it quits raining right now, yes, it will be bad. As long as we can get some measurable amount of rain every five days, we should be OK on soybeans. Not a bumper crop, but a decent crop.”
Soybeans are typically harvested at the end of September.
White said it is possible to make up the rain deficit but the continuing isolated showers make predictions more difficult.
“If you have a lot of pop-up showers, you tend to get a lot of runoff and they don’t add a lot,” he said. “Heavy, quick rainfall runs off. It’s slow rain that soaks in.”
Showers are in forecast through the weekend but how much rain they may leave behind is unpredictable.
Today will be mostly cloudy with a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs will be in the lower 90s. Chance of rain tonight is 40 percent with lows in the lower 70s.
A 50 percent chance of rain is forecast Saturday with highs in the lower 90s. Lows will be in the lower 70s. Sunday will bring a 60 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms with highs in the lower 90s and lows in the lower 70s.
Technically, the drought is over in Athens.
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Limestone Ledger 5/23/13
VFW grill out
The VFW and Ladies Auxiliary grill out will be held from 2-5 p.m. Sunday at the VFW Post on North Jefferson Street. $5 per plate for barbecue ribs and chicken plate dinners. Eat in or carry out. Public invited. Contact: 256-729-6077 or 431-7887.
- Limestone Ledger 5/22/13
- Limestone Ledger 5/23/13