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Hartselle Enquirer

Abnormally dry weather in area threatens corn crop

By David Gambino  

For the Enquirer  

Abnormally dry weather in parts of north Alabama is threatening corn crops. 

“If we don’t get rain pretty quick, it’s going to do our (corn crop) in,” said Brady Peek, who farms about 2,000 acres in Limestone County. “I check the weather three or four times a day.” 

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, published Thursday, all of Limestone County, the majority of Lawrence County, and northwest Morgan County have suffered abnormally dry conditions since the end of May. 

Relief may be on the horizon. 

Robert Boyd, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Huntsville, expects the dry conditions to improve next week. “We start getting into a wet pattern Sunday and maybe Monday,” he said. “We’re at about 22.29 inches (of rainfall) for the year, down from a 25.9-inch average.” 

Boyd said he expects 2 to 3 inches of rainfall would be enough to alleviate the abnormally dry conditions. 

For Peek, who planted his corn in early April, rain can’t come soon enough. While cotton and soybeans can handle current conditions, he said, corn is in a critical stage of growth. 

“We need rain within the next week. The stress can start to take a toll on the yield, because corn can start to deteriorate real fast,” he said. 

This is not a new problem for Peek and other farmers in the area. “We had a very poor performing corn crop last year,” he said. 

According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, dry conditions plagued northwest Alabama last summer, with a large portion of Limestone County — and to a lesser extent, Lawrence and Morgan counties — categorized as being under a moderate drought in July and August. 

This summer should be an improvement. According to the National Weather Service’s seasonal precipitation outlook, rainfall in northwest Alabama over the next three months is expected to be 40-50% above average. 

Peek expects to harvest his corn in September. 

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