Seep water may hurt plants

Published 12:55 am Monday, May 5, 2008

VIDALIA — While area residents have spent several weeks wondering if their houses and livelihoods would be submerged by the higher-than-average river, for local growers it may be the water under the ground that plays the most important role.

Seep water — water that the river has pushed through the ground, essentially raising the water table, has left many areas saturated and soggy.

That could mean trouble for horticulturalists and lovers of ornamental plants in soaked areas.

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“The seep water will probably kill some of the plants,” Vidalia horticulturalist Eleanor Talley said. “The seepage water is not healthy water.”

For tree lovers, most of the trees in the area won’t be negatively affected.

“Most trees can take a little bit of saturation, as long as it’s not standing water,” MSU Extension Professor of Forestry Stephen Dickie said. “When you’re talking about the pine trees in the area, they are what is called a facilitated wetland species. They prefer the highlands but can acclimate to the delta area.”

As long as the water isn’t standing or doesn’t get too hot, the trees should be OK, though magnolias or dogwoods will not likely respond well to the constant soil saturation, Dickie said.

As the river level continues to fall, the water table will follow suit, and seep water will eventually dry up.

The river is expected to stand at approximately 54 feet today, approximately 6 feet above flood stage at the Natchez-Vidalia pass.