We are a little over half way through the summer and we are just starting to see the first series of days in quite a while that represent “typical” summer weather here for our area. The weather has, without doubt, been one of the most popular topics of conversation, especially among farmers. Most folks are saying that they have never seen or cannot remember the last time they have seen so much rain during this time of the year.
In the interest of validating these observations, we decided to give the official data for our area and some statistics so the next time you are talking about the weather you can speak with confidence that this has indeed been an unusual summer so far. Based on the North Carolina Climate Data Office during May, we received a little over 5” of rain at the Sanford monitoring site. In June we doubled that with over 10” of rain while, during July, so far, over 8” have been recorded. Of course, there is variability in areas outside of Sanford and we have heard as high as 15” of rain reported in June and 10” reported in July.
Across the state for most of the reporting stations, the total amount of precipitation ranks in the top five wettest starts to summer on record. The statewide average for June ranked as the second wettest since 1895 and there have never been more rainy days from June up to mid-July as we have had this summer. In addition, our region has only once recorded a higher level of precipitation from June 1st to July 15th and has never recorded more rainy days in this time period. And temperatures have been unusual as well with the fewest number of days recorded with maximum temperatures that reached or exceeded 90F in more than 30 years.
Farmers are certainly feeling the impact of all this rain. As of last week, there was still some wheat in the fields and even those farmers who were able to get their wheat cut earlier have had a hard time getting soybeans in the ground. Tobacco farmers are reporting poor to fair conditions. We even heard one farmer had ducks swimming in his tobacco. Horticulture crops are also taking a hit and diseases are coming on now. About the only crop doing well is corn, unless it is in bottomland. Of course, yields and crop quality will be impacted but how much remains to be seen.
Hopefully, we can get some dry weather here (not said this before in July) and ride out the summer without any more history-making weather.
Kim Tungate is Agriculture Agent – Field Crops and Livestock for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.