Category Archives: Weather

Weather Outlook For July And Beyond

We are blessed with rain these past two months. In some cases, we have more than we want. Drought is almost entirely gone from the Southeastern US at this time. Rainfall across some parts of Georgia were abundant, with rainfalls up to 300% of normal. The rainfall and clouds have also kept the temperatures down below normal by blocking out the sun’s energy. Below is an outlook of what we may expect from here on from UGA Extension Climatologist Pam Knox:

The outlook for July and beyond shows that there is a continued chance of above normal rainfall for the next month, although that abates somewhat later in summer. Temperatures are expected to be closer to normal than in previous seasons, although there is not much skill in making summer forecasts, especially when ENSO conditions are neutral (not El Nino or La Nina). The neutral conditions do make it likely that the Atlantic hurricane season will be more active than usual, so some areas could see a lot of rain from any storms that do materialize, but of course we don’t know where those will go, so areas right along the path could see a lot of rain while others outside the path could see none, similar to what happened in 2016 with Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew across the Southeast. Because of the increased chance of rainfall and the cooler temperatures, I expect that irrigation will be less needed than in some previous years, but of course it depends on the growing stage of the peanuts and the type of soil they are in as well. Whatever rain does come is likely to be in hit-or-miss showers which may cause widely variable conditions across short distances.

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Weather & Disease Update

It’s hard to say we don’t want more rain, but more and more we’re saying just that. We’re having showers nearly every day or every other day, sometimes as much as an inch and a half. It’s starting to show up in the field where cotton is getting ‘wet feet.’ Some of our rain has come with strong winds. Our largest field of tobacco took a hit from these winds knocking plants to the ground in some places. The only hope is to stand it back up as best as possible. It is still causing issues with topping since the flowers on the ground began growing straight up.

We have a good crop of tobacco this year, but it was hit hard from strong winds and rain. Some areas completely blown to the ground.

Flowers turned from wind affects topping

From UGA weather station in Cairo, here are the rain numbers since the beginning of May.

Disease Update

Here is our latest disease update from UGA Extension Pathologist Dr. Bob Kemerait:

Southern Corn Rust: I was stunned when agents in our disease diagnosis class visiting a field in Morgan County found a very active spot of southern rust. Unbelievable because until yesterday, it had ONLY been found lightly in Seminole and Marion Counties. Obviously, as we expected, southern rust could be present anywhere in Georgia now.  Why it has not “exploded” yet is a mystery to me given the conditions we have had, but CLEARLY the spores have spread across the state.

The corn in that field as at hard-dough/early dent, so it does not need to be treated; however growers with later planted corn not yet at R6/dough stages should be aware there is at least some threat.

Target spot of Cotton: Perfect weather but I am NOT calling for an automatic fungicide application at first or at third bloom.  BUT I am saying that every cotton grower SHOULD be aware that these can be important and critical timings. As cotton approaches bloom, I hope growers can put some eyes and boots in the field and begin looking for it, lower leaves first. Weather is very favorable- growers with a history of disease in the field and those with high-input, strong yield potential should be the growers with the greatest chance for benefit. Target spot will not steal the entire crop, but it will take away a valuable portion of the crop.

Consider:  Growth stage (blooming yet?)  history of disease, reports from scouting, (have early symptoms been found?), what’s the weather like now and what is the forecast?  What is the value to the growing in a preemptive application “to be done with it”?

White mold and leaf spot in Peanut: We are seeing some of both.  Growers, don’t get behind!

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Updated Climate Outlook For Summer 2017 And Beyond

Just as we started planting peanuts this week, some growers stopped for lack of moisture. It is very dry and has been for a while. Our last good rain was 3 weeks ago, and subsoil moisture is also low. We’ve been discussing potential weather this year and most talk about the expected heat. But what about other predictions? UGA Extension Climatologist Pam Knox has an update.

In spite of the cold outbreak in mid-March across the Southeast, year-to-date temperatures are in the top five warmest on record for most parts of the peanut-growing region. The average temperatures from January 1st on have been an average of five degrees above normal. The result of that early warming in spring was that many plants came out of winter dormancy almost three weeks earlier than usual.

Rainfall across the area has been somewhat variable, with the year-to-date totals showing below average precipitation, although the first week of April brought flooding rain to many places in the Southeast. The early dryness has caused deficiencies in soil moisture which have led to the development of “abnormally dry” conditions across the region according to the Drought Monitor, although those have been somewhat reduced by the rain last week. Streamflow in many rivers has also been below normal because the early-growing plants sucked up any available moisture that fell, leaving less to move into the ground or run off.

The short-term and long-term outlooks show that temperatures are likely to continue to be above normal. In the near term, our weather is likely to be dominated by high pressure, which will keep skies sunny and temperatures on the warm side. A few passing fronts may drop some showers but no big rain events are currently expected, which may bring abnormally dry soil conditions to the area, especially as warmer temperatures lead to higher evaporation rates.

Over the rest of the growing season, the likelihood of above-normal temperatures continues all the way into next winter. This is based on trends towards warmer temperatures that have occurred across the region from the 1970’s on as well as the absence of a strong El Nino or La Nina. Prediction of precipitation is difficult in neutral conditions, and NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center shows equal chances for below, near and above normal precipitation in the next year, indicating their lack of skill. However, they do provide a hint of above normal rainfall in the western Gulf of Mexico region which may be tied to unusually warm waters which are present now in the western Gulf.

ENSO conditions are currently in the neutral phase, which means that no La Nina or El Nino is present. While spring is a tough time to predict the phase of El Nino in the coming fall and winter, climate forecasters currently believe that an El Nino is likely by mid- to late summer. With this in mind, the forecasts for the Atlantic tropical season predicted that there will be fewer than usual storms, because the developing El Nino’s strong subtropical jet stream will “blow the top off” of any developing storms, keeping them from getting strong enough to become full-fledged storms. I think that with the Gulf of Mexico having such warm water temperatures now, we may see some early storms develop in that region, potentially bringing rain to the Southeast as the storms move out of the Gulf. Later in the season – if the El Nino develops as expected – less tropical storm activity is likely, leading to a potential for another dry fall. Of course, as we saw last year with Hurricane Matthew, a single storm can cause all kinds of havoc with winds and flooding rain, so even in a season that is not very active, you can still get tropical impacts.

The bottom line: expect warmer than normal temperatures to continue through most of the growing season (with some breaks for cool incursions from time to time), more rain early in the growing season,and a potential increase in dry conditions later in the year in areas that are not directly affected by any passing tropical storms.

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Pecan Budbreak & Cold Weather

It’s been about two weeks since we observes some budbreak in young pecan trees. We had a day of rain across much of the county this week, and it then dropped to 31 degrees Thursday morning. The picture above is an orchard with frost on the ground. What will happen to our trees now? UGA Extension Horticulturalist Dr. Lenny Wells has this to say:

Those areas with forecasts for 30 degrees or more should be ok. Other areas (North GA) that reach temperatures of 28 degrees or less could see damage to any foliage that may already be out. Fortunately, there is very little of this. I have seen and heard of a little sporadic budbreak here and there—mostly on newly planted or very young trees. Those on which the outer scale has split – and you only see a little green peeking through or the buds are just swollen – should be ok. But, any new growth that has started to lengthen and expand will be most susceptible if temperatures stay at 28 degrees or less for a few hours.

Most mature trees still have buds closed or are barely showing some green (most of this is deep into south Georgia). Those trees on which the buds are still closed should be fine. The level of damage a tree receives in this type of situation is completely dependent upon its level of dormancy.

March 3rd, 2017 – Photo by Mat Thompson

Developing foliage exposed to 28 degrees or less for several hours (usually 3 hours or more) will be burnt off by the freeze. The trees will bud out again, but that will probably wipe out any crop on a mature tree for the year. Since there are not many trees out this far yet, we should be ok. Even those on which we see budbreak only have a small percentage of the shoots breaking bud, so this will help.

The biggest danger will come in the form of cold injury, mostly to younger trees. This damage is usually expressed as longitudinal bark splitting, separation of bark from wood, and sunken areas on trunks, browning of the cambium (the normally bright green tissue normally observed just under the surface of the bark when scraping with a pocket knife), and sparse canopy development. Much of this may not be readily obvious until temperatures heat up in May/June and the water demand increases. The freezing temperatures destroy the cambium cells and the tree then can’t get the water and nutrients it needs. Sometimes the trees may have enough healthy tissue to keep it going for a year or more before it collapses. The more dormant the tree is, the less susceptible it will be. If the sap is rising, there is a risk for cold injury. Trees in low elevation areas will be most susceptible. Any damaged trees will then become more attractive and susceptible to ambrosia beetles, so be vigilant for these as well.

Young Elliot – Photo by Mat Thompson

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Storm Damage & Clean Up Assistance

Saturday a week ago, a tornado came through Thomas County during the night and left a path of destruction to homes and agriculture. We had another storm the following day. Thomas County EMS estimates that around $5 million in damage has occurred ($2M on homes and properties and $2.5 M on farmland and agriculture.)

Agriculture damage included grain bins torn with debris spread through fields. There were a few pivots that were knocked over or completely destroyed. We also saw damage to some pecan orchards once again, as the case with Hurricane Hermine. Growers in the storm’s path have had to pick up lots of debris in fields and repair fences, etc. Here are some photos:

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Growers with damage to their orchards need to take photos of the damage and report it to their local FSA office in order to receive financial assistance with cleanup. Cleanup funds normally pay 75% of the USDA-set cost of a mature tree ($300) up to a maximum of $200,000 per entity. Younger trees will be valued at varying levels depending upon age.

In addition, the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) will pay for tree loss when 15% or more of the orchard is destroyed. This pays 65% of the cost of the tree up to a maximum of $120,000 per entity.

This money is not available immediately but your FSA office will gather your report. Requests for cleanup funds are made to Congress and they will then appropriate the funds so it may take a while.  

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December Row Crop Disease Update

A few things to think about with regards to disease and nematode management in preparation for the 2017 field season.

La Nina:  Our UGA Extension climatologist Pam Knox has good information available on our current conditions, but here are my thoughts:

We are currently in a “weak” La Nina situation, “weak” because the equatorial waters of the cost of Ecuador are more than a half degree COOLER than normal.  As best I can tell, the waters have been about 7/10 of a degree cooler which barely qualifies as a La Nina (as opposed to last year where we had a robust and sure-enough El Nino).  So what does this mean? During La Nina years, the Southeast tends to (“tends to” means more often than not, but not always..) experience warmer and drier winters. Because we have a weak La Nina, this forecast could change.

Pigweed seedhead in broccoli before Thanksgiving. We are yet to have frost to knock back pigweed growth.

Pigweed seedhead in broccoli before Thanksgiving. We are yet to have frost to knock back pigweed growth.

How does our current “La Nina” impact our recommendations?

  1.  Drier is not a good thing as it may mean we don’t fill up irrigation ponds for next year.  It my mean we have a lot of trouble establishing cover crops this fall.
  2.  Warmer temperatures may mean that kudzu, volunteer peanuts, corn, cotton-regrowth, etc. pathogens (like those that cause soybean rust and southern corn rust) may survive and increase longer than they would with an earlier “killing” frost.  Also, as long as the crops and volunteers are active in the field, nematode populations can continue to increase and build.  This will lead to larger populations for next season. Once the plants are killed, the nematodes can no longer feed. Once soil temps drop below 65F, the activity of the todes drops off as well.
  3.  We may get some very cold weather soon, so we may not need to worry that much; however the general prediction is that we will have a warmer winter.
  4.  The weather this winter will have some effect on TSWV and insects for next year.  It remains to be seen what and how… but it will impact them.

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Warm March

Satsuma-NewGrowth 003

Though we did experience some cool weather last month, March was still warmer and drier than normal. We saw soil temperatures approach 65 degrees a few times. We didn’t have a freeze at Easter. Our satsumas have benefited from this warm weather and are in full bloom now. This helps our neighbor’s peach crop in Brooks County as well. Warm weather has also given us good planting conditions for corn. University of Georgia Extension Climatologist Pam Knox has this update on March temperatures:

March was drier and warmer than normal across Georgia, ushering in projections for a warmer and wetter than normal spring.

Warm conditions statewide caused early blooming of many trees and flowers, leading to very high pollen counts, which were not helped by the lack of rain needed to wash away the pollen. Early blooming in the northeastern part of the state led the National Weather Service to start issuing frost warnings there earlier than usual because of farmers’ concerns about the fruit trees.

In spite of the cold weather in late March, most fruit trees across Georgia were not affected by frost, and a good and flavorful peach crop is expected this year unless a very late frost occurs in April.

The lack of rainfall caused abnormally dry conditions across the state. This allowed farmers to get into the fields to plant and apply chemical, but dry conditions caused some concerns for germinating crops.

Wet conditions in the southwest corner of the state hampered farmers’ ability to work in the fields and led to the development of some fungal diseases by the end of the month.

The outlook for April does show colder temperatures in the beginning of the month, but a return to warmer conditions later. Precipitation is expected to be above normal for the first half of the month, but drier conditions may return in the last two weeks.

Warm March

Georgia saw well above normal temperatures in March, ranging from 3 to 6 degrees above the 1981-2010 average.

  • In Atlanta, Georgia, the monthly average temperature was 60.5 degrees Fahrenheit, 6.2 degrees above normal;
  • the Athens, Georgia, average was 59.9 F, 5.6 degrees above normal;
  • the Columbus, Georgia, average was 61.9 F, 4.1 degrees above normal;
  • the Macon, Georgia average was 61.1 F, 4.3 degrees above normal;
  • the Savannah, Georgia, average was 65.0 F, 5.8 degrees above normal;
  • the Brunswick, Georgia, average was 64.9 F, 4.6 degrees above normal;
  • the Alma, Georgia, average was 63.6 F, 3.4 degrees above normal;
  • the Augusta, Georgia, average was 60.8 F, 4.9 degrees above normal;
  • the Albany, Georgia, average was 63.7 F, 4.5 degrees above normal;
  • the Rome, Georgia, average was 56.8 F, 4.7 degrees above above normal;
  • the Valdosta, Georgia, average was 64.7 F, 4.6 degrees above normal.

Multiple records for daytime high temperatures were set on March 15 across the state. Atlanta reported 85 F; Athens, 86 F; Alma, 87 F; and Columbus, 87 F, breaking the old records of 82 F, 85 F, 86 F and 86 F, respectively, all set in 2012.

Macon also tied its record of 87 F on the same day, and Augusta, Savannah and Brunswick tied records on or near that date. Brunswick also broke a record high on March 14, recording 84 F, which surpassed the old record of 83 F set in 1975.

 

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