Condition Reports Show Crops Catching Up after Slow Start

New Crop Progress Reports are out and climatologist Corey Davis has taken an extensive look at those particularly for the Carolinas and how weather has impacted that quarry. What are you seeing right now?

Well, Mike, we’ve talked a lot over the last month about how wet the start of winter was. And that includes January, across most of the Carolinas. So at the end of the month, we did get these updated crop progress reports from USDA, and generally they tell us that that wet weather has made some nice improvements. Places like Pickens County, South Carolina had more than 14 inches of rain in January. Keep in mind this was one of the same locations the back of the beginning of December was in that extreme drought. So the picture that these reports paint is really a massive turnaround going from those drought conditions to now fairly wet conditions. In fact, in some areas down across South Carolina, in North Carolina as well. It’s a little bit too wet for the farmers to get into the fields and start doing preparations for spring planting like they would normally do this time of the year. But with that said there’s some other good news coming out of these reports and that’s with the overall crop conditions. The small grains, the barley, the oats, the winter wheat are all at least two thirds are in good to excellent condition. Otherwise mostly fair condition at this point. So even though it was drier to go into the winter, and it’s been wetter since then, most of those crops that are in the ground are actually in pretty good shape right now.

So even though a slow start looks like we’ve caught up quite a bit.

That’s right. And that’s another bit of good news back again two months ago at the beginning of December. There were farmers that had not started doing that small grain planting yet and they were worried whether they were ever going to be able to get those plants in the ground with as dry as it was with as low as the soil moisture levels were. So we have seen a nice recovery with both of those, again, crops being planted but also the soil moisture. This week we’re seeing mostly adequate to surplus soil moisture conditions, very, very few soils being reported as short on moisture at the moment. That being the case though there are a few spots out there that are actually I don’t know if you’d say below normal, but you tell me I think there are some areas that are surprisingly drier than we would expect. It really is surprising Mike again, you think about some of those rainfall totals over the last month more than 10 inches and parts of western North and South Carolina. But as we go to the eastern parts of the state, some of those areas have not seen quite as much rain especially since the middle of January. So even though they’ve had a wet start to the winter, most of those areas are still on track for at least an average winter in terms of risk with average education. We have seen some of the smaller streams and some of the tributaries, those streamflow levels begin to drop just a little bit. Again, not too much of a cause for concern at the moment. But it does tell us that again those areas have now been more than three weeks without a significant rainfall event. And that is starting to take somewhat of a toll on the landscape. So let’s look at the forecast. Moving forward number one.

I hear that we’ve got a warm blast coming, but any precipitation with this system that might offset some of those dry areas.

We’ve got a little bit of both, like you said my very warm weather today but especially tomorrow, our highs will be up into the 70s. Those are temperatures more typical of mid to late April than early February. So it will definitely feel like the spring through the first part of the weekend. After that. We’ll have a cold front moving in from the west. It should get here by Saturday night so that’ll drop our temperatures off just slightly. We’ll still be in the 60s on Sunday and Monday. But we will see those rain chances ramp up. It looks like that front is going to stall out across the Carolinas this weekend and early next week. So expecting some pretty decent rainfall totals at least half an inch. Much of South Carolina and western North Carolina could see at least an inch and a half out of this event. And some of those same areas that saw those extreme precipitation amounts in January. Could see even more here in early February. We’re talking two two and a half inches possible over the next five to seven days. So it looks like even though we’ve had a few drier weeks in some areas, we may now be shifting back into that wetter pattern that we’ve seen for most of the winter so far.

Do you think this system coming in is going to be the one that are we going to have any threats of flooding associated with this?

Certainly if there are areas especially in the West that are still seeing some of that lingering moisture from the January rain still in the stream still in the rivers, they get another two inches of rain on top of that, that could cause some local flooding issues. The good news again in the eastern part of the state these are some of the main rivers the news the Cape Fear the tar debryn flood stage backhoe a month ago, those have come down quite a bit. So it looks like they’d be able to handle the amount of rain that we’re going to see over the next few days. So again, it’s possible to see some flash flooding or local stream flooding but not looking for any widespread impacts at this point.