July 20, 2005 | By: Aimee Nielson
LEXINGTON, Ky.

Remnants of Hurricane Dennis brought enough rainfall to Kentucky to help most parts of the state climb out of moderate drought status, but University of Kentucky Agricultural Meteorologist Tom Priddy said more moisture is needed to get back to normal. 

“Significant rainfall provided by the remnants of Hurricane Dennis for the past seven days improved Kentucky's hydrologic and agricultural moisture situation for most of the state, according to the latest Palmer Drought Index,” he said. “The west and central climate zones of Kentucky improved two categories to incipient drought, joining the eastern section of the state. The bluegrass climate zone improved but continued in the moderate hydrologic drought category.”

The latest figures did not include rainfall from July 17, which Priddy said would have improved the bluegrass zone one more category to mild hydrologic drought. The Crop Moisture Index indicated that moisture was adequate for present needs in the west and central zones, while the bluegrass zone showed improvement but more rainfall needed to meet current needs.

Priddy said rainfall needed above normal amounts to end hydrologic drought is 3.18 inches in the west zone, 3.34 inches in the central zone and 4.63 inches in the bluegrass zone.

The most recent Kentucky Weekly Crop and Weather Report issued by the National Agricultural Statistics Service surmised that statewide, slightly more than half the corn and 
soybean crops were in good or excellent condition. About a fourth of each crop was rated fair,
and the rest was poor or very poor. The tobacco crop was rated 39 percent good, 36 percent fair, 15 percent poor, 6 percent excellent and 4 percent very poor.

“Corn has improved some – just how much depends on the stage of growth it was in and how much water stress it was in prior to recent rains,” said Chad Lee, UK College of Agriculture Extension grain crops specialist. “Statewide, we could still have an average corn yield, but there will be some pockets with severely reduced yields.”

Lee said those pockets are ones where the corn had poor pollination prior to recent rains and that the only help those fields will get by additional rainfall is seed fill.

“It’s wise for most farmers who have experienced drought prior to or during tasseling to anticipate lower-than-average yields,” he added.

Jim Herbek, UK grain crops specialist at the UK Research and Education Center in Princeton, said recent rainfall in western Kentucky saved the corn and soybean crops and was very helpful to late-planted soybeans (double-cropped soybeans).

“They were struggling a little but seem to have really been helped by the recent moisture,” he said. “The rain arrived at a critical time, but it isn’t going to carry us through the rest of the season. Hopefully we’ll get some more in the next month to complete these crops.”

Priddy said that while Kentucky has seen some significant improvements, there are still concerns in the bluegrass climate zone.

“If we don’t receive more rain soon, the bluegrass area could easily slip back into moderate drought,” he said.

The outlook over the next few weeks calls for hot and humid conditions throughout the state, sometimes pushing heat indices into the 100s. Priddy said he anticipates near-normal rainfall amounts through August 1. 

Writer: Aimee Nielson  859-257-4736, ext. 267

Contact: 

Tom Priddy 859-257-3000, ext. 245
Chad Lee 859-257-3203
Jim Herbek 270-365-7541, ext. 205