Farmers see end to drought

Published 8:01 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Farmers beginning spring planting this season are missing something they’ve had for years — drought.

For the first time in three years, Pike County farmers will at least begin planting season with moisture in the ground, maybe even with a little too much.

“They have started planting some things in the ground, but I know the rain has kept some of them off,” said Pike County Extension Agent Tammy Powell. “It was just too wet for a while.”

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But, “too wet” is a saying local farmers are likely pleased to hear after years of dry seasons.

“It never hurts to have some rain. That usually builds peoples spirits and makes them feel a lot better about what they’ve done,” Powell said.

While the county was declared drought free in the latter part of 2008, conditions started to return in the first of 2009, said National Weather Service Hydrologist Roger McNeil.

But, after the last report of the U.S. Drought monitor last week, the state is completely free from dry conditions.

“Right now, it looks like we’re in good shape as we head into late spring, early summer,” McNeil said.

State Climatologist John Christy said the worst drought conditions hit in 2007, and the state has been on the recovery since.

“The deepest part of the drought was in 2007, and there were stations in Alabama that had their lowest rainfall in 150 years,” Christy said. “So what happened in 2007 was the once in a century drought so it was a difficult one.”

Powell said farmers in the county this year are planning on planting less acreage of crops as a whole after three hard years. But they aren’t giving up.

“I think farmers generally every year are cautiously optimistic or else they certainly would not plant every year because they invest so much time and money and effort this time of year praying they will have a harvest,” Powell said.