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Thursday, February 28, 2013 - 10:57am

Rain Helping And Hurting Farmers

Georgia has seen so much rain in the last two weeks, that there are no more areas of extreme or exceptional drought in the state. That helps farmers long-term, but some have had to delay planting due to all the rain.

Some areas of southwest Georgia have received up to 20 inches of rain in the last two weeks.

Charles Hall, executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, says “You can’t get in the fields, you can’t do the preparation that you need to be doing to begin the planting process. So it’s slowing this year’s crop down significantly. Hopefully we’ll see the rain slow down and we’ll be able to get back into the fields and do some work.”

He says growers with vegetables in greenhouses haven’t been able to move the plants into the ground due to wet conditions.

“Until the ground gets to such that they can start planting. And that normally would start in mid-March, but there’s a lot of preparation that has to be done before you can put plants in the ground.”he says.

Hall says broccoli, cabbage and greens have been planted.

Hall says a cold snap expected this weekend won’t hurt the crops. In fact, this has been a warm winter. He says peaches need a bit more chilling, so the cold temperatures will actually help peaches.

State Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black says the rain has helped recharge the water supply for farmers.

“We’ve seen a marked improvement in our aquifer system in southwest Georgia, all across the coastal plain of Georgia. You know it restores those natural resources and prepares us. Because irrigated agriculture is so important with over a million acres in Georgia.”he says.

Black says all the rain improves the prospects for bumper crops this year.

State Climatologist Bill Murphey says while the drought has eased statewide, there are still areas suffering from severe drought.

“Stretched from Macon up to Augusta and then down along the South Carolina border in the central Savannah River area down through the Georgia coast and in parts of southeast Georgia.”he says.

Murphey says those areas have been hardest hit since the drought began in October of 2010.