The month of January has been good for moisture as 1.21 inches of rain has been recorded. The accumulation is above average for this time of year but it will take much more where that came from to alleviate drought conditions.
Leland McDaniel, Carter County OSU Extension Educator, said recent rainfall has been beneficial for some grasses and has benefited winter wheat producers short term.
“Winter rainfall is important to plants even though they are dormant,” McDaniel said. “It kind of serves as an antifreeze. When plants don’t have enough moisture and you get freezing temperatures, it is easier for cell walls to rupture.”
While the grass will benefit, trees are still in need of rain as is the subsoil. And there are lakes and ponds to consider.
“All the rainfall went into the ground,” McDaniel said. “It was not heavy enough for runoff and that is what is needed for ponds and lakes. It is going to take heavy runoff to get the levels back up.”
Carter County and the surrounding area remain in severe drought conditions, next to the most extreme rating of drought that exists. There has been a cumulative effect over the last three years, which have taken a toll.
In 2010, rainfall was five inches below the 30-year average. In 2011 rain fell to 14 inches below average and in 2012, it was 11 inches. Conditions through March are expected to persist or intensify through Mar. 30.
“The outlook is not rosy,” McDaniel said, “We are in the midst of a severe drought that rivals the 1930’s.
“The recent moisture we have got is a temporary band-aid. We are going to lose tree and we are going to lose some grass. We are glad to get what we got, but we need more runoff.”