Category Archives: Weather

More Rain

As of Friday, reports from growers were that they were able to get in the field and rip higher ground. Rain started again Friday evening, and it gave us five inches in all parts of the county that I hear. This looks like it will set us back another few days from getting back in the field. The sun came out Saturday afternoon, and we’ve had nothing but sunshine since then. Actually, reports are that some put out some fertilizer yesterday and today.

I wanted to show a picture or two of some of the water. There is a creek or branch above us that feeds water into our lake. Our house sits on the edge of the dam with a little spillway. The water running over the spillway woke us up Saturday morning. Here is what it looks like normally and then with water.

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Rain water

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Rain water

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El Nino Update

Here is an update on weather conditions from UGA Extension Climatologist Pam Knox:

The climate of Georgia this winter has been strongly influenced by El Nino, which is related to cooler and wetter conditions than usual in the Southeast in the winter and spring when an El Nino is occurring. While December did not follow the pattern this year, the rest of winter has settled into a more typical El Nino regime. This is expected to continue through spring, which may mean wet conditions in the fields for the next few months. This may lead to delays in planting which could hurt yield, according to the peanut planting date tool at

El Nino is already starting to diminish and is expected to return to neutral conditions by May or June before swinging to the opposite phase, La Nina, later this summer. La Nina is associated with dry and warm conditions, which could hurt crop development later in the growing season, but could help with harvest. The only exception is in areas that are hit by tropical storms, which are often more numerous in La Nina years.  If a La Nina does develop, next winter is likely to be warmer and drier than usual, leading to the possibility of drought returning to the Southeast in 2017.

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El Niño Update

Here is a climate update from UGA Extension Climatologist Pam Knox:

If you’ve been following the news this year, you already know that we are in the middle of one of the strongest El Niños since the 1950s.  An El Niño is a climate event related to a weakening of the trade winds in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the movement of sun-warmed surface water eastward towards the coasts of Peru and Ecuador.  Thunderstorms that develop over the warm water divert the subtropical jet to the north. 

In this year’s El Niño, the jet has pushed one storm after another across the Florida peninsula as well as Alabama and Georgia, leading to unusually wet conditions across many areas.  Normally, when we have an El Niño, our temperatures are cooler than normal due to the extra-cloudy conditions.  However, this (past) December was way above normal in temperature when Arctic air that normally makes it down to the Southeast, got trapped near the poles.  Since the beginning of January, our temperatures have returned to more normal winter conditions.

What is next for El Niño? 

It looks like the warming is near its peak, as expected, and the predictions are for a rapid decline to neutral conditions.  This could occur by late spring but are more likely in early summer.  And after that?  Five of the last six strong El Niños have swung to the opposite phase, a La Niña. This could occur by mid- to late summer.

What does this mean for peanut growers in the Southeast?

Continuing rains from the current El Niño are likely to give us ample soil moisture going into the spring.  This may cause problems getting into some fields that are prone to wet conditions.  The first part of the summer should have plenty of rain.  However, once the La Niña kicks in, drier than normal conditions are expected all the way through fall.  That will help with harvest but might make drought more likely.

The one wild-card in this forecast is the effect of tropical storm activity in the Atlantic Ocean basin.  La Niñas are often associated with above-normal number of Atlantic hurricanes.  If you are in the path of one of those storms, you could see a lot of rain even if the storm is not that strong.  But it’s far too early to predict where those storms are likely to go, so plan for dry conditions later in the summer unless a storm heads for your farm.

The La Niña is likely to last through next winter, which means warmer and drier conditions may occur next November through March.

If you want to see the impacts of El Niño and La Niña on peanut production, you can use and view maps of peanut yield by El Niño phase.

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Cold Weather Welcome

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We had a few frosts this week. With record warm temperatures in December, this cold is going to help some of our winter crops claim some chill hours. We’ve also been having plenty of rain as El Nino was predicted. Here are some screen shots of rain, temperatures and chill hours from the Dixie weather station from You can see how much lower chill hours are as were last winter this far. The ’12 to ’13 winter was also warm.


Chill Hours





Small Grain/Forage

Our forage crops look okay and hearing some good reports. We need to watch some of our forage now as cool temperatures are going to come back this weekend and next week. Oats, of course, are more susceptible to the cold damage.  Some cattlemen are fertilizing forage after heavy grazing to encourage new growth. Ryegrass is one of our small grains that has 3-way split, with one fertilization through the winter. Everything else we fertilize once at planting and then before spring to encourage more tiller growth. We may want to be careful with management inputs during these upcoming cold hits. Below is the forage recommendation fact sheet from the UGA Soil Test Handbook:


Here are some oats I looked at today. Overall, they look good. Fields are wet and we need to watch for compaction. And we need to watch our grazing. To determine when to pull cows off, we look at the node or joint inside the stem of the plant. This is the growing point, and it feels like a bump or bee bee inside the stem. We don’t want them to graze lower than the growing point. In the picture below the joint is between my thumb and the roots.

Joint in oats

Joint in oats

I also see a little crown rust showing up. These orange/red pustules on the leaf resemble that of aphid feeding. The rust pustules will rub off on your finger. They are also raised above the leaf.

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Pustules of crown rust in oats


Crown Rust

Aphid Feeding

Aphid Feeding

Crown rust will cut back on yield even in grazing, so we have to graze heavily when rust is seen so we remove the leaf tissue where spores land.


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Some crops are not going to appreciate the cold. Thomas County has 2,500 citrus trees in commercial production now – mostly Satsumas. The biggest challenge for citrus north of Florida is cold protection. Certain plants handle cold more than others. Satsumas have the greatest degree of cold hardiness. Bearing satsumas can withstand temperatures as low as 19º to 20ºF without considerable wood damage. (Citrons, lemons and limes, on the contrary, are most easily killed by freezing temperatures – as low as upper 20s.)

I took a picture of these satsumas Tuesday morning. The temperature that morning was 29 degrees. Once temperatures get down to 24 and 25, they will cut on the irrigation as a form of cold protection. Previous cool weather allowed the plants for some cold acclimation. Cold acclimation is very important for citrus. The sudden, hard freezes in November 2014 hurt us so much more, because plants were essentially not ready for the cold. A few nights in the upper 20s is good for our citrus.

Cold damage always takes some time to show up. Lowndes County Agent, Jake Price, gave a good talk on cold damage at the Satsuma meeting this week. There are a few types of cold damage we may see. Sometimes damage occurs on the leaves only. If damage is on the stem, it is worse. If the plant incurs cold damage on the leaves, it may drop those leaves. This is a good sign since the plant has to be alive to drop the leaves. If cold damage occurs and leaves do not drop, this is not good news. Here are some pictures of cold damage. The darker green is cold damage:


Cold damage on Satsuma – Photo by Jake Price



Cold damage on Satsuma – Photo by Jake Price

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Climate Outlook

Here is some information from UGA Extension Climatologist Pam Knox:

This has been an interesting growing season from a climate perspective.  April started out with minor dryness, especially in western Georgia.  That disappeared under the extremely wet conditions that lasted through most of April.  But once May started, the skies dried up and many parts of the Southeast experienced almost no rain for the first three weeks.  This allowed fields to dry out and farmers to catch up on their planting but caused some stress on corn and other crops by the end of the month.  Since that time, rain has returned in much of the area, but it has been spotty.  Above normal temperatures have also contributed to stress on plants, and many farmers had to irrigate to provide water for the growing crops.  At the end of July, abnormally dry conditions covered almost 60 percent of Georgia and a small area of severe drought was present in an area centered on Clinch County.

Tropical Season

We are now entering what is usually the most active part of the tropical season.  Due to the presence of El Nino, the number of storms is expected to be lower than average this year.  Dust blowing off of Africa over the Atlantic Ocean is also contributing to the lack of storms so far.  However, the main part of the season is still likely to produce some activity in the coming weeks.  And it only takes one storm, like Hurricane Andrew in 1992 (also a strong El Nino year) to cause tremendous damage, so producers should keep abreast of current forecasts and watch for more activity in the coming weeks.

The prediction for the next few months is for the continuation of above normal temperatures, particularly in southern Georgia and into the Florida peninsula.  As is typical for summer, there is no prediction one way or the other for precipitation.  Scattered thunderstorms and the occasional tropical system will provide rain in some areas, but the exact locations are impossible to determine at this point.  The strong El Nino will continue through the winter, and will likely bring rainy, cool and cloudy conditions to a lot of the Southeast.  In a strong El Nino, the onset of the winter rainy season is likely to be abrupt and could start as soon as the beginning of November, so producers should be prepared to deal with rainy conditions if they are harvesting late in the year

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Wind On Corn

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I looked at corn yesterday setting in the V8 growth stage. Thankfully, we had a small dry period in the early week to get out our post emergent herbicides in this field. Weed control here is good. But the rain and wind have left corn lodging. You can see it throughout the whole field. In very few spots, plants are laying completely on the ground. Saturated soils have slowed the development of nodal roots because of less oxygen in the soil. UGA Extension Corn Agronomist Dr. Dewey Lee says while corn doesn’t like to live in saturated soils, it generally can handle it in the coastal plains soils of south Georgia as those soils typically drain well….

“Most of the time, corn will begin to straighten up in a few days (if the rain stops) or at least ‘gooseneck’ a little as it begins to straighten. What current conditions have done is to prevent any field work until the corn plants clear the middles so a tractor can travel the area without running over stalks. Given any sunshine over the next few days, the crop will begin to straighten as the stalks continue to lengthen and soils dry. Hopefully field work such as herbicide or nitrogen applications will resume and ease the pain of the last several days.

On deep sands or loamy sand soils, you can expect that some of the applied N has already leached below the root zone and you may consider adding a little more.  Applying  N through the pivot, though, will make this an easier task. Unfortunately for those farms where corn is between the V7 and V9 stages, the cloudy conditions and wet soils have already had its negative effects on the number of rows due to lower irradiation and temporary nutrient deficiencies.”

Wind blown corn

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Late Soybean Harvesting

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Here are some soybeans down below Metcalf that were not able to be harvested since a creek washed out the road leading to these back fields. We wondered about aflatoxin issues but UGA Extension Pathologist Dr. Bob Kemerait says this is generally not an issue with soybeans. Because of the wet and dry conditions soybeans went through, the issue is going to be quality. UGA Extension Soybean Agronomist Dr. Jared Whitaker says this shriveling is a sign the beans have went through periods of wet and dry conditions. There is some mold is on the grain but not an issue. These beans are to be sold, so it maybe best to take some to the buyer and let them make an assessment. The quality is not as bad as we thought and would probably be some deduction when bought.

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Cold And Dry

Most of us don’t know of temperatures this low before Thanksgiving. A lot of people are already covering citrus trees planted in their backyards. Satsuma’s are probably my favorite citrus and have the best cold tolerance – withstanding temperatures as low as 19 and 20 degrees. Citrons, lemons, and limes have the lowest tolerance and can be damaged in the upper 20s. Tangerines and mandarins can withstand the mid-20s.

Pecans 007We’ve also been wondering about crops still harvesting. Here is a picture of some Stuart pecans that are still in the tree. I was asked about some Sumners the other day which were still green and shucks not opening. UGA Pecan Specialist Dr. Lenny Wells says its a misconception that cold will keep shucks from opening. If the nut is mature, it will open and fall. If it’s not opening, it’s something else – maybe pollination issue.

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A dry October has caused is hurting us trying to establish forage on dryland pasture. Here is some Big Boss Ryegrass that was drilled in the middle of October. This pasture received  its first rain last week since it’s been planted. The cold may have been a factor too since some tips have died back. Oats has the least cold tolerance of our cool season forages. Irrigated pastures for grazing are up and tillers developing with less stress for water.


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El Nino Chances Decrease

Here is an update from UGA Extension Climatologist Pam Knox:

The pool of unusually warm water in the eastern Pacific Ocean that was observed earlier this summer has now mostly dissipated without a response from the tropical atmosphere, leaving climatologists wondering if El Nino will occur this winter as predicted earlier.  In the strongest El Ninos, the atmospheric signature of El Nino is starting to be visible by August, and even weaker El Ninos often show some El Nino circulation patterns by late summer.  It is not too late for an El Nino to occur, but as time goes on the likelihood of a strong one decreases.  Climatologists still think that we may see a weak El Nino develop this fall, but the impacts of a minor El Nino are likely to be restricted to south Alabama and Georgia and south into northern Florida.  Weak El Ninos generally provide wetter and cooler conditions than normal in these areas, but there is a lot of room for other patterns to dominate the climate when El Nino is weak.

The prevailing large-scale weather pattern this summer has been a persistent high pressure area on the west coast of the US and a matching broad low pressure trough across the eastern US.  The high pressure in the west is linked to unusually warm water in the Gulf of Alaska which has been in place for several months.  The high pressure in the western US has led to frequent periods of above normal temperatures and an increase in drought conditions over time, especially in California.  Farmers in California were looking to a strong El Nino to bring drought relief to the area and are now concerned the drought may last for a fourth year or even longer if El Nino does not materialize.  Meanwhile, in the east, the cool flow of air from Canada has kept temperatures cooler than normal for a good part of the summer, although only a few daily records have been set.  Rainfall was plentiful earlier in the year but abnormally dry conditions have started to spread through southern Georgia and into Alabama.  A small area of moderate drought has developed near Alma, where they set their record lowest July precipitation since 1948, a total of just 0.41 inches for the month compared to a normal of 5.33 inches.

There are no immediate signs of the warm Alaska waters going away, which may keep this persistent pattern in play for fall and perhaps even winter.  That would mean that winter this year could be cooler than normal; a higher chance of snow and ice storms could be possible if this pans out. Climatologists will continue to monitor the situation to see whether or not an El Nino starts to appear later this fall

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