South Bend Tribune
SOUTH BEND – Abnormally hot and dry weather is starting to provide some telltale signs in the greater South Bend region with crops starting to show some stress and portions of the St. Joseph River retracting from its banks.
Much of St. Joseph County as well as Kosciusko County, Marshall County and Elkhart are officially considered “abnormally dry” because of the high heat and lack of summertime rainfall.
Jeff Burbrink, a Purdue Extension educator in Elkhart County, said about the only good thing about the rain this summer is that is has occurred at the most opportune times. “It seems like every time the wilt started showing, the rain showed up,” he said.
As a result, most crops are still in reasonably good condition through much of the area, though Burbrink said the lack of rainfall could begin to seriously affect crops — especially soybeans — if the area doesn’t get some rain in the next week or so.
“If we don’t get water, we could still end up with a lousy bean crop,” he said.
Except for some sporadic showers, the National Weather Service believes that the next best chance for widespread rainfall will occur on Thursday night and much of Friday, but there are no guarantees with only a 40% to 50% chance of precipitation predicted through the period.
With total precipitation of about 28.28 inches so far this year, the region is still about 2 inches above normal when it comes to precipitation, said Patrick Murphy, a meteorologist with the Weather Service office in North Webster.
But rainfall has been in short supply for much of the summer, Murphy said, pointing out that the area is down by 1.16 inches in August and July was also drier than normal. With the high heat, moisture in the soil can evaporate at a rate of as much as 0.25 of an inch each day, according to experts.
Kosciusko County is among a cluster of counties in northern Indiana that are experiencing some signs of drought.
Under current conditions, categorized as a D0, dryland crops and rangeland are stressed. Lawns are brown and gardens rely on frequent watering, according to a US drought monitor website.
The next level of drought, categorized as a D1, can result in stunted crop growth and supplemental feed may be needed for livestock. Blue-green algae blooms are more likely to appear and creek and pond levels are low, the website said.
SOURCE: HPSA InfoNet.
|InkFreeNews contributed to this report.