BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
This month's persistent precipitation that Greene County has been slogging through may be a big inconvenience now, but over the long-term it could also result in a great benefit to local farmers, according to area experts.
For now, however, even some of the farmers are likely complaining about all the mud and washed-out roads.
So far this January, the University of Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center on East Allens Bridge Road has recorded 7.42 inches of precipitation. Two inches of that total coated the county in the form of snow late last week.
The center is Greene County's official weather data station.
According to the 30-year average precipitation recorded at the center, January normally results in 3.53 inches of precipitation on average. That means the county is 3.89 inches above average so far this month.
In 2012, the center recorded 44.42 inches of rain, which was .14 of an inch above average.
This comes in sharp contrast to a drought in 2007, in which the county received only 25.45 inches of rain. That was 16.56 inches below the 30-year average for that time, resulting in dried up creek beds and ponds and a shortfall in hay production.
This reportedly also reduced the water table enough that some farmers may still be feeling the effects.
A few months from now, however, the excess rain may serve to quench the thirst of land that has been abnormally dry for most of the past several years.
"There's good and there's bad [about the heavy rainfall this week]," explained Milton Orr, director of the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Office in Greene County.
For now, he and Jake Haun, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Services Agency Office in Greene County, both agree that farmers are experiencing all the bad -- trash and debris in the fields, washed-out land, and mud just about everywhere.
"Mud is not necessarily good for some of our little guys," Orr said, referring to the small calves that struggle in the thick, sticky earth and tend to get scours from drinking from muddy udders.
"We also see just a little more stress on the cattle from having to slog through the mud," Orr added.
Haun praised local farmers, however, saying that there had at least been very few, if any, crops washed out by the recent rains.
"I think everybody this year did a good job of getting soybeans and corn out of the Lick Creek area. I don't know of any crops affected by the flood," Haun said.
"As far as the long range, it raises the moisture level for us, which is usually a good thing -- going into the season with surplus."
Orr expressed a similar opinion during a separate interview.
"We're probably going to see a little bit better growing season for forages, hay, corn, tobacco, those types of things," Orr said.
"Our water table has not really caught up, so hopefully this will help bring that water table a little closer to normal."
Haun did issue a word of caution, however, to those now ready to embrace all the extra rain.
"It's always good having that moisture going in -- as long as it doesn't continue for three or four months like this."
That, of course, would be an entirely different story.