Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rain at Last, but Effect on Crops Spotty Cotton Farmers Face Critical Times

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rain at Last, but Effect on Crops Spotty Cotton Farmers Face Critical Times

Article excerpt

Rain is finally falling, but it's far too early to predict whether it will make a dent in the drought, agriculture officials said.

Scattered rains have fallen over parts of Southeast Georgia since the middle of last week, with totals ranging from more than 2 inches to none. Wayne County has fared better than most and one landowner in Odum reported 2.5 inches of rain in a gauge at her home, said Randy Franks, Georgia Agricultural Extension Service agent in Jesup.

"We got enough rain in places to do us some good," Franks said. Although some of the corn crop was already lost, the recent showers could be enough to save the crop, he said.

Asked the value of the rain, Franks said, "It takes 27,000 gallons to put 1 inch of water on an acre. There are 413,000 acres in Wayne County. You multiply that out and it's a tremendous amount of water."

Farmers in Coffee County have not been nearly as fortunate because the showers have been less numerous, County Agent Rick Reed said.

"We're living day by day waterwise," he said.

Many farm ponds have been pumped dry for irrigation and farmers are getting weary from the round-the-clock work of keeping their crops from dying, he said.

Farmers set up their irrigation systems so it they will spray overnight and shut down about 10 or 11 a.m., he said. Then they break down the pipes and spray equipment and move it to another field and set it up again where the automatic equipment crawls through the rows, Reed said.

"They'll run all night or sleep in their trucks a couple of hours. They park at the end of the field so the water hitting their truck wakes them up," he said.

Both Franks and Reed agree that July and August are critical for cotton farmers. Many cotton fields that are barely hanging on can recover and produce a near-normal crop with good rains over the next two months, they said. …

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