June 7, 2011

Coming out of the wettest combined April and May on record, Kentucky agriculture producers are dealing with a multitude of problems including flooding and increased disease.

University of Kentucky College of Agriculture meteorologist Tom Priddy said data from Jan. 1 to May 31 reveals Kentucky’s wettest year on record with an average 31.38 inches of rainfall statewide. That figure surpasses the previous record of 31.18 inches set in 1950.

“Record flooding occurred along the Ohio River,” said Tom Priddy, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture meteorologist. “The station at New Madrid and Cairo recorded the highest crest in history, while Paducah recorded its second-highest crest. Flooding was not just held to river basins; fields were saturated from early April through late May all across the state.”

The abundant rainfall significantly held up corn planting across the state and increased disease in winter wheat left standing in floodwaters. Priddy said about the only positive was the above-normal low temperatures that kept a late freeze at bay, helping the state’s horticultural producers.

Priddy believes recent hot and dry conditions over much of the state may be short term.

“We expect overall rainfall to be around normal for June; however, temperatures should stay above normal,” he said. “The rest of the summer should bring near-normal rainfall and cooler-than-normal temperatures.”

Priddy said tropical storms are already starting to develop in the Gulf of Mexico, and that’s a strong start to hurricane season, which officially began June 1.

For the six-month hurricane season the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts 12 to 18 named storms of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes, including three to six major hurricanes.

“What does that mean for Kentucky?” Priddy asked. “Well, we remember recent years when remnants of several tropical storms have moved up the Mississippi River and stalled over the Bluegrass state providing significant rainfall.”

Priddy said the NOAA predications are based on La Niña continuing to decrease to a neutral state in the south Pacific.

“And, it’ll be a completely different weather pattern if El Niño should return as some of the models suggest,” Priddy added.