Scattered storms shine slight ray of hope on local crops
by Brooke Carbo
Star staff writer
Jun 17, 2011 | 1556 views |  0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rain clouds that have been sporadically darkening Calhoun County have given local farmers reason to hope, but more rain is needed before they breathe a sigh of relief.

National Weather Service meteorologist Aaron Gleason said the weather system that dotted the county with rainstorms early this week was “not awful but not great.” He said it has rained .39 inches since June 1, far below the two-inch average for that time period. “Nothing that will get us back to where we need to be in terms of rainfall,” Gleason said. It has rained 21.83 inches since the beginning of the year — 5.62 inches below average, according to the National Weather Service in Birmingham.

But Gleason explained those numbers do not account for the scattered, isolated showers that are typical of this time of year.

“What you get in the summer is typically not very widespread and not very often,” he said. “Some people just get lucky.”

Some of that luck may have landed in Calhoun County, according to Scott Butler, executive director of the county’s Farm Service Agency.

“Most of my farmers are about up to schedule,” he said. “Of course they want it to rain.”

Butler acknowledged that rainfall in the area has been spotty but said surrounding counties are facing far worse conditions, particularly Cleburne and Randolph Counties.

“In Randolph, lots of pastures look like you sprayed herbicide on them,” he said.

Until recently, some Calhoun County farmers were facing similar conditions. Last week, Doug Trantham said if his fields in Alexandria didn’t get rain within 10 days he could potentially lose his corn crop. After this week’s showers he is cautiously optimistic.

“They’ve kind of perked up,” he said. “We need more rain but it’s kind of holding us on.”

Jacksonville farmer Keith Bryant was concerned about his crops last week as well. He is less optimistic.

“It’s been helping but it’s been minimal if anything,” he said.

According to Bryant, his fields got two-tenths of an inch in Wednesday night’s storm.

“It’s already gone,” he said. “What we really need is a three-day wet spell.”

Bryant may have to wait awhile. The National Weather Service in Birmingham is predicting conditions to dry out further early next week and a statewide no-burn order issued last week by Gov. Robert Bentley remains in effect despite the storms.

“Although recent showers in some areas of the state have been welcome, there has not been sufficient rainfall to decrease the danger of wildfire,” the Alabama Forestry Commission said in a press release Thursday.

Farmers across the county are still appreciative for the short reprieve.

“We’re thankful for everything we get,” Bryant said.
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