But A Lot Depended
On Where In County
A Farm Was Located
BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
Harsh droughts struck across the nation and in other parts of Tennessee in 2012, yet most of Greene County received plentiful rainfall.
Precipitation totaled 44.42 inches for the year, which is .14 inches more than the 30-year average of data collected by the University of Tennessee (UT) AgResearch and Education Center at Greeneville.
The center is located on East Allens Bridge Road. It has been an official weather observation site for the National Weather Service since 1932.
As for the most recent month's rainfall, the center recorded 4.04 inches in December, with trace amounts of snow recorded on Dec. 21 and 30.
December's average rainfall is 3.42 inches.
In reviewing 2012's rainfall data, Center Director Rob Ellis noted that the rainfall stayed right at average for the year in southern Greene County, but said that the same was not true in all areas.
"It's been tremendous for us right here in this part of the county. It was tough on other folks in parts of the county," he explained.
Ellis noted that he has heard from at least one farmer in the northern portion of the county that it has been "very dry" in that area, although not comparable with the droughts experienced in Middle and West Tennessee.
"It probably hurt their pastures some this summer," Ellis said.
"We've been very fortunate here, right where we're located, to receive good rainfall," he added, noting that the Center has had a good yield.
"June was the only month that we were well below what our average should be for the month."
June saw only 1.64 inches of rain at the Center compared with an average of 4.22 inches.
In contrast, September had 5.6 inches of rain compared with the average 3.25 inches. This was the largest amount of rainfall the Center recorded in any given month during 2012.
"I don't recall us having any major problems with that," Ellis said of the early Autumn rain.
"We were 2.35 inches [above average], but basically the difference in what normal was and what we received was in a two-day period there at the first of the month."
That two-day period was on the mornings of Sept. 3-4, the only consecutive days of the year where rainfall totaled more than an inch each day. The two days ended in 2.61 recorded inches of rain at the center.
MOST AND LEAST
There were only seven days in 2012 in which rainfall exceeded one inch, according to the data collected at the UT center.
The most rainfall for any given day was recorded at 1.8 inches on July 2.
July is historically the month with the highest average rainfall, at 4.73 inches. In 2012, however, that average was exceeded with a total of 5.47 inches.
November had the least amount of rain recorded -- only 1.03 inches.
Overall, 2012 saw 154 days with at least a trace amount of precipitation recorded.
As good as the total rainfall for the year may sound, for farmers everything hinged on when the rain came, according to Milton Orr, director of the UT Agricultural Extension Office at Greeneville.
"We didn't get it when we needed it, and we got it when we didn't," Orr said. "It was kind of a messed up year, but for the most part it was much better than it was in 2007."
The director said one of the most unexpected occurrences of the year came with the corn crop.
While earlier corn crops usually have the best yield and are most dependable, in 2012 it was the late corn crop that did the best, he said.
"You could go just about anywhere in this county and ask a farmer, 'Was it dry this summer?', and they will say, 'Yes,'" Orr added. "Probably 90 percent of the county has experienced dry spells this year."
NORTHERN PART OF COUNTY
The northern portion of the county was likely the hardest hit by the dry spells, he noted.
"I do think there's been some significant differences," he added.
"Of course, every year we have differences in rainfall, depending on the terrain and location, [but] there are some areas that traditionally are a little drier than others."
Jake Haun, director of the Greene County Farm Service Agency Office, explained that the northern portion of the county is more prone to drought due to shallower soils.
"It really hurts them more than it does parts of the county with deeper soils," he said.
Haun also emphasized that the timing of the rain was just as important as the amount.
"By and large, compared to everywhere else this year, Greene County was tremendously blessed with the season we had compared to almost anywhere else," he added.
'BEST YIELD EVER'
The middle of the county fared much as the southern portion did, with conditions dry through June but plentiful rain thereafter.
"It was a very, very dry month of June. Then it started raining after the Fourth of July," reported Mark Kleeper, who runs the 200-acre farm behind the Greene Valley Developmental Center, as well as farmland in the Lick Creek area, near Romeo.
"The rain after the Fourth of July saved my crops," he added. "It saved my crop and made a pretty good crop, actually."
Kleeper was late putting out his corn, which made for a stronger crop, although he thought for a time that there would be too much rain in the Lick Creek area.
"But it didn't hurt anything, and I actually had excellent yields -- the best corn yield I've ever had," he said.
EAST AND WEST
Corn was the weakest crop of the year for the Wayne and Virginia Brown family, although weather conditions on their farm in Chuckey were much the same.
"It was dry early. From about mid-May to around the Fourth of July we had no rain," Virginia Brown said.
Unfortunately for the Browns, they planted their corn in late April. It was six to eight weeks later before the rain came, she said.
"It was a disaster," she added. "We had a washout on the early corn."
However, Brown said that the later crops -- such as soybeans, tobacco and hay -- did well.
"We had a good enough year to farm another year," she said with a laugh.
For farmers in the western part of the county, Brown said it was a "bumper crop" if they were able to avoid the early dry spell.
"It all depends on when you get your crop out," she concluded.