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Friday, May 6, 2016

Hot weather brings drought

Monday, July 9, 2012

We're in a drought. This isn't news to most of us, but it could have some very far-reaching effects for everyone. Farmers, homeowners, and just about everyone else will be affected. It looks like this drought is with us for the long hall. There don't seem to be any soaking rains in our future and the predictions for July are for above average temperatures.

Farmers have been fretting about the lack of water for some time. But with temperatures rising to record breaking levels, this heat will stress out already stressed crops. The most recent droughts of 1983,1988 and 1991 showed some significant yield losses in corn of 34 percent, 31 percent and 27 percent respectively. Soybeans faired better in those years with yield losses of 14 percent, 28 percent and 2 percent respectively.

Livestock are also feeling the heat and drought. It is very important that livestock have access to fresh water. Many times this means that troughs are going to need cleaning more frequently due to algae and bacteria growth. The low humidity and cool nights so far have helped cattle reduce heat stress, but if the temperatures rise, particularly at night, we could see some reproductive failures due to heat stress. Forage supplies will be affected too. We may have lower quality forages and less of them. Livestock producers need to plan carefully or we may feel this drought for several years.

Hot dry weather is also tough on homeowners' landscapes and gardens. Water practices and conserving water are more important now in a drought situation than ever before. Homeowners should forgo watering lawns in this heat. Cool season grasses, which make up most of the grasses planted in Putnam County lawns are supposed to go dormant in the hot, dry summer time. They will come out again when water and cooler temperatures return. Grass that goes dormant in the middle of summer is not going to feel the effects of this drought as much. Grass that has been watered throughout the hot summer months and not allowed to go dormant, will have to deal with hot temperatures and lack of water which could actually harm the lawn.

Most gardeners are getting concerned about their gardens. It is not unusual to see gardeners watering their gardens morning and night during hot dry times. In a drought the first thing all gardeners need to do is mulch their garden to help the ground conserve water. With out mulching almost 90 percent of the water will be lost into the atmosphere. Mulching helps retain much of that water so the plants will have water available to help them grow. You can mulch with straw, hay, or even shredded newspaper. These items are easily broken down into the soil for next year. Wood mulch or wood chips won't break down as readily and may cause some issues in the garden next year. It is best to water deeply and infrequently. You need to put at least one-two inches of water around the root zone of the plant.

If you have any question or concerns please call Ann Delchambre at 653-8411, email adelchambre@purdue.edu or Facebook Putnam County agriculture.

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