February rain could help crops

Published 12:05 am Friday, March 2, 2012

If the recent rains continue, farmers could see a better year.

According to data provided by the Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Authorities, Covington County, more specifically the meter at Yellow River Bridge, recorded 4.88 inches of rain – a total that is higher than any February total on the ChocPea website.

The figure is up from 3.64 inches in February 2011, 4.60 inches in February 2010, 3.36 inches in February 2009, 4.24 inches in February 2008 and 2.8 inches in February 2007.

February rains are an improvement after January rainfalls started off slowly with only 3.92 inches, compared to 4.68 inches last January.

“Right now the rain is helping with winter grazing and building up some subsoil moisture,” said Doyle Barnes of the Farm Service Agency. “We really don’t have any crops growing right now except for wheat, oats and rye. Hopefully, it will help come planting time, and we will have enough to get a good crop. Last year wasn’t that good at all, but we did end up a lot better than I had anticipated.”

Covington County finished 2011 with rainfall totals down slightly from 2010’s overall figures at 43.80 inches compared to 45.64 the previous year.

January and February totals put the county at 8.80 inches thus far, compared to 8.32 inches this time last year.

The Thursday morning reading for the Yellow River placed the river at 6.33 feet, still a vast improvement over last April’s 3.37 feet.

Don Haige of the ChocPea said the river normally stays between 5.5 feet and 6 feet.

As March starts, rainfall is in the forecast.

National Weather Service forecasters are calling for a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms today and Saturday, before the rain rolls out next week.