Much of the Panhandle has had above average rainfall during the first quarter of 2014. While most farmers are getting frustrated because the wet ground has delayed planting preparation, ranchers are smiling because they have finally gotten ideal weather for cool-season forage production. While there are certainly areas of the Panhandle that have received abundant rainfall over the past 90 days, there are also areas that are more than 2″ below normal. Jefferson County had the most extremes in a single county, with more than 8″ above normal near the coast, and areas 2″ below normal nearer to the Georgia line. So far in 2014, the Carrabelle station has collected 19.5″, which is over 7 inches higher than normal. The dry location was Monticello where just under 13″ fell, which is more than 2 ” below average for this location. The average for all six stations was 16.4 inches for the first three months of 2014.
Temperatures have finally started to warm back up as we prepare for crop planting. Even so, soil temperatures through March remained cool, keeping early planted corn from quickly emerging.
Soil Temperatures have warmed up in April, but the recent cold front that moved through earlier this week dropped average soil temperatures down below 60 degrees again. As the weather warms back up over the next few weeks, soil temperatures should finally be above 65 degrees for peanut and cotton planting, but they are not there yet.
At this point, the weather forecast for the months ahead is favorable for growing crops and pastures in the Panhandle. While there is no drought expected in the Eastern US, slightly above average temperatures are expected.