Welcome Rain, Snow
Rebuild Water Table;
But Easing Would Be
Best For Farmers Now
BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
Let it rain. Let it snow. But let it let up a little between now and planting time.
That's the mantra of local farmers, according to Jake Haun, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Services Agency Office in Greene County.
The University of Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center on East Allens Bridge Road, Greene County's official weather station, recorded 10.3 inches of rain and snow during January 2013.
Data concerning the all-time record for January precipitation in Greene County was not readily available on Friday from the UT Center.
However, the 30-year January precipitation average at the center is 3.53 inches, meaning that the county received nearly triple the normal amount this January.
That includes 2.57 inches recorded at 7 a.m. on Jan. 15 and 2.2 inches on Jan. 31.
Snow measured half-an-inch on the morning of Jan.13 and two inches on Jan. 18.
The morning of Jan. 25-26 did not bring much rainfall -- a combined total of 0.61 of an inch -- but that amount made for hazardous travel in the form of freezing rain.
There were 17 days in January when the UT Center recorded at least a trace amount of precipitation.
IMPACT IN TRI-CITIES
Greene County also recorded more January precipitation than the Tri-Cities.
For the Tri-Cities area, this past January was the wettest on record, the National Weather Service (NWS) in Morristown reported.
The NWS office's records date back to 1947.
In the past 30 years, the NWS has recorded an average for January of 3.37 inches of precipitation -- be it rain or melted snow.
This January, the month's total for the Tri-Cities was 6.62 inches above average at 9.99 inches, according to meteorologist Derek Eisentrout.
The previous Tri-Cities record, he said, was the 9.18 inches recorded in 1957.
Haun said Friday that he "wouldn't hazard a guess" as to what conditions will be in the upcoming planting, growing and harvesting season.
But he said he is certain that January's rains will have replenished any lingering depletion in the local water table from drought conditions in previous years.
"At this point in time, I don't think [the heavy January rainfall will] have any effect other than the fact that the moisture table will be replenished and won't be a problem going in," Haun said.
For Greene County's most popular crops -- corn, soybeans and tobacco -- the growth period is somewhere between April and September, he noted.
"It's good to have a good water table going in, as long as it's not too much," Haun added. "At this point in time it would be way too much, but it's not a concern yet."
'ENOUGH IS ENOUGH'
While producers do look for moisture to build up some in the winter, "enough is enough," the FSA director said.
While some continuing rain would be good, Haun said that it would be best for the amount to "slack off" between now and March 15-April 1.
"What [producers] are concerned about -- and rightfully so -- is [getting] rainfall in July and August," he concluded. "Hopefully, we'll not get it all in January. We will need some in July."