by Benjamin Reeves
UGA Extension Agent
The first thing I learned as an Extension Agent is that you cannot control the weather. Last year we had a rainy spring during the cotton and peanut planting season. This prevented farmers from getting into the field, and some crops were planted later than normal.
This year the weather flipped on us, and we had a prolonged drought across the state instead. With the large amount of dryland acreage we have in Candler County, this is concerning. When topsoil and subsoil moisture are depleted under drought conditions, it can prevent seeds from properly germinating. This can cause a poor stand count, which is a top priority. This is more drastic for cotton, as it cannot tolerate as deep of a planting depth as peanuts.
While a good portion of peanuts were already in the ground mid-drought, planting dates for cotton were pushed back until rain was in the near forecast. These rains are better late than never and should be beneficial to crops that are already in the ground. It should also help recently planted cotton by allowing enough moisture to reach the seed and allowing the plant to emerge. Conversely, prolonged heavy rain events we are going through now could make it difficult to run equipment in the field, which could prevent planting and running sprayers.
In terms of the crops that were already established, the high heat and drought have taken their toll. This is more severe on dryland acres. Even in irrigated fields, getting water to an entire crop can be an issue, as water will not hold and moves quickly down the soil profile under dry conditions.
The rains we are having right now may afford the opportunity to shut off irrigation on some crops, which can help with overall production costs. It is my hope that these rains have not come too late to help carry the crops through the meat of the growing season.