Rain in the Forcast

Image result for drought stressed cotton

Image from: Biochemical, Physiological and Molecular Avenues for Combating Abiotic Stress Tolerance in Plants. 2018: 297-316

Thomas County has not seen a significant rainfall event in the past 30 days.   Low humidity is also leading to high evapotranspiration.  Recently we have been losing up to .30 in. from evaporation each day.  All shallow soil moisture has basically been depleted at this point.  Shallow soil temperatures are also very high – 88 degrees yesterday.  Small tender plants are really suffering in this heat – the best solution for many growers is to irrigate at night (which is very difficult logistically because it takes up to 12 hours or more for a pivot to make a full rotation).  Cotton and peanuts are in the early stages of production so all that has mainly been affected is emergence – many have had to replant.  Those with irrigation systems can manage this issue, but those without need only pray for rain and manage weed and insect issues which have been made worse by the dry heat.  Weeds are more competitive in this environment and insects have moved off of other drought stressed plants onto more tender, newly emerged crops.  Good news – once cotton and peanut crops have emerged water demand is low (about a half in per week).  In an average year – we have no average years – this would be taken care of by rainfall.  By late June cotton and peanuts will be in peak water demand.  Approaching or in tasseling stage corn so yields are also being severely affected due to water requirements being about 2.5 in per week.  Pecans are also in need of irrigation with the onset of nut sizing coming up.   With temperatures up around 100 degrees for several days growers will be tempted to increase the irrigation further, but this is not necessary.  Pecan can still function normally at temps of 106 degrees as long as they have the water they need. Temperatures are much cooler at night though, which allows for some recovery for our crops.  Rain is also in the forecast for this weekend so hopefully we can all get some relief soon.  If not, good record-keeping and sound irrigation strategies can increase profitability in several different ways – reducing irrigation costs through reducing energy costs, and increasing yield.

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