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Many Georgia Communities Facing Drought and Water Restrictions

[Millen, GA/John Holcomb – Reporting]
Rain – something that if you would’ve asked a farmer if they needed some last winter,
they would have probably begged you not to even mention the word, but with mother nature
being mother nature, farmers in Georgia are undoubtedly jumping for joy after a front
come rolling in and relieved land that hadn’t seen rain in weeks. According to the US drought monitor, almost
the entire state of Georgia is in a drought, with more than sixteen percent in extreme
drought conditions. [Pam Knox/Agricultural Climatologist, UGA]
Starting at the beginning of September, right around Labor Day, we had a lot of dry weather,
in fact, some places hadn’t had rain in a couple of months. A few farmers were feeding hay as early as
the first of July, but for most of the state, the drought really ramped up right around
Labor Day and then we had a long period with no rain at all or just really a little bit,
and temperatures that were six to twelve degrees above normal. So, it didn’t really take long for the
drought to expand significantly. We call that a flash drought just because
it happens so fast. [John]
Two people that can attest to how fast it happened is JD and Ben Newton. Brothers that farm together in Jenkins County,
and have been hit hard from the drought. [J.D. Newton/Co-Owner, D.R.N. Sons Farms]
Sometime around mid-July, rain just cut off. Looking at cotton, me and friends had talked
about that square retention and bowl retention was really high, it was unusual to see the
plant hold that much of a crop. But when the rain shut off here it literally
just started throwing all the fruit on the ground. So, you saw a good potential crop just seem
like it just everyday it just took a step back and step back. [John]
As you can see from this field they’ve already harvested, they at least have a crop,
but in terms of their yields, well they’ve taken a hit. [JD Newton]
We’ve harvested some acres. Irrigated as been very well. Dry land and when you’re picking almost 1,000
pounds more on irrigated than your dry land cotton is, that’s pretty evident of how dry
it is. And peanuts is doing the same way. [John]
They’ve still got a lot of harvesting to go, and need to get back into their fields,
but they, like everyone else in Georgia are just hoping that the rain will keep on coming. [JD Newton]
We’re about probably two thirds maybe a little better on peanuts done harvesting. As you can see behind me, we’ve got this field
is on the ground, and we still got about 100 acres to go to dig up. Cotton, we’re about thirty percent harvested
on it. So, we got a good ways to go. But we’re glad to see the rain. [John]
Depending on where you are in the state right now, rainfall could be anywhere from eight
to seventeen inches behind average, but according to Knox, with the rain that we got the past
week or so from Tropical Storm Nestor and what they can predict in coming months, things
should start to turn around. [Pam Knox]
We don’t know yet whether the drought is going to go away or it’s going to
continue after this hiatus of rainfall, but at least for now we’re going to see
some improvement. Typically in the winter we do see some improvement
anyway. [John]
Reporting in Millen for the Farm Monitor, I’m John Holcomb.

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