Miss-Lou dealing with tough drought

Published 12:01 am Monday, July 4, 2011

NATCHEZ — Even with two days of rain in the past two weeks, the Miss-Lou is still in need of some moisture, and area farmers aren’t the only ones dealing with the consequences of the hot, dry weather.

Adams County Extension Service Director David Carter said in the past 10 to 12 weeks only two inches of rainfall have hit the ground in the Miss-Lou.

“I would have to say this is the worst drought I have seen since I have been here,” he said. “I have never seen one this bad this early.”

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Carter said that while the two inches of rainfall the area received June 21 and 22 did help, it was far from enough to save the Miss-Lou from any major problems.

“I would say we need at least 10 to 12 inches of rain to get things where they need to be,” he said. “And we don’t need it all at one time, because we lose a lot of that water to runoff.”

Carter said the area needs a couple of inches of rain a week for about five or six weeks to have the best soil available.

“We just need a good soaking rain,” he said.

Carter said area crops are struggling to get the water they need, and if the drought continues the yields for this year are going to suffer.

“If we get some rain here and there, things will be able to continue growing,” he said. “But it certainly won’t be what people have been hoping for.”

Carter said many farmers are planting later in the season because of the flood, and there is still time for rain to help those crops grow to their full potential.

The high heat and lack of rain is also making it harder for grass to grow, a problem Carter said is affecting area residents who own livestock.

“With the limited grass growth, some people are already feeding their livestock hay,” he said. “They usually don’t start doing that for another three or four months.”

Carter said the hay is supposed to be used to feed livestock during colder months when grass isn’t growing, and since it is being used now, there may be a hay shortage in the colder months.

Carter also said area vegetable and fruit gardeners are seeing a lack of production.

“People with home gardens are having to water and irrigate three or four times a week,” he said.

Carter said one of the larger problems caused by the drought and high heat is low water levels in area ponds.

“Some of these ponds are three to four feet below what they should be,” he said. “If we do get a lot of rain, this could cause some pond turnover, and we could see a lot of dead fish.”

Carter said the extension service is going to be checking fish populations in area ponds this week to see just where things are at with the drought.

While all signs are pointing toward disaster, Carter said the summer is still early and there is still a chance for rain to save the day.