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Have we gone from ‘feast to famine’ in the rain department?

By Steve Huffman
shuffman@salisburypost.com
Kevin Fisher is a territory sales manager for Southern States and sees firsthand crop conditions in Rowan and surrounding counties.
Back in May and through the middle of June, rainfall was abundant. If anything, it was too wet.
Then things changed.
“When the spigot was turned off, it turned off completely,” Fisher said.
Today marks the three-week anniversary of the last time a significant amount of rain fell in Rowan County. Conditions have gone from cool and wet to hot and dry.
In other words, it’s summer.
“We’re still hopeful,” Fisher said of the possibility of the growing season turning out to be a good one. “But we need some rain.”
Of the area corn crop, he said, “We’ve got decent rows and kernels, but it’s got to start raining and that’s not in the forecast.”
Fisher compared the area’s precipitation to riding a carnival roller coaster. “We’re in one of those dips,” he said. “But hopefully we’re going to come out.”
Just don’t count on it happening this week said Blair Holloway, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. He said there’s no significant amount of rain predicted anytime soon.
That’s a switch from the spring, when afternoon thunderstorms were more the norm than the exception. Because of that early-season precipitation, annual rainfall totals are still slightly above normal: 24.65 inches vs. the average of 22.69.
“The start of May through the first of June was such an active period, anything else is going to seem tame by comparison,” Holloway said.
It’s going to remain tame for the foreseeable future.
“Things are going to stay relatively quiet at least through the end of the week,” Holloway said. “It’ll be hit-or-miss as far as thunderstorms are concerned.”
Cathy Reynolds operates Bluebird Acres Farm on Shue Road outside China Grove. She raises tomatoes, cucumbers and squash for sale at the Salisbury Farmers Market and elsewhere.
Reynolds, who retired five years ago as a teacher with the Rowan-Salisbury School System, also raises perennials and annuals that she arranges into baskets. She brags that she’s the only farmer in Rowan County who raises edamame ó an edible soybean.
Reynolds has a drip irrigation system that gets water to much of her crops. It was a system that wasn’t needed a couple of months ago.
“We had a little too much water at the beginning (of the growing season),” Reynolds said. “It was too wet to till, too wet to cultivate.”
Despite the dry conditions of late, Reynolds said her crops have been doing well.
“Overall, it’s been a pretty good year for us,” she said.
Reynolds’ sister, Mary Corriher, who also lives on Shue Road and who helps their father, Duard Cress, with his crops, on Tuesday summed up recent precipitation totals.
“We got maybe five drops yesterday,” Corriher said, laughing as she spoke.
Cress, the women’s father, said the irony of the early precipitation is that because of its quantity, it often did more damage than good, in some cases killing plants in low-lying areas.
“We had too much rain,” Cress said. “The tomatoes can’t stand it.”

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