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COLUMBIA CITY â€” Although continuous rain has provided favorable weather conditions for late July, the end to the drought is far from over.
â€śThe only way we are going to see an end to the drought would be if we have a continuation of the rain on a regular basis,â€ť said David Addison, Purdue Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development. â€śThe rain we have seen has brought the grass back, but itâ€™s still low.â€ť
Whitley County is currently in an extreme drought, and Southern Indiana is in an exceptional drought, with an average of 15 inches of rain below normal.
â€śWeâ€™re still down about seven inches right now,â€ť said Addison. â€śWeâ€™ll need that and more to end the drought.â€ť
Phil Walker, Northeast-Purdue Agricultural Center (NEPAC) farm manager, said the rain has recharged some of the soil, but that is only going a short distance.
â€śThe crop grows mainly using the topsoil, which is the top foot or so,â€ť said Walker. â€śAround here, the topsoil has somewhat been recharged, but if you go down below that, itâ€™s still very dry.â€ť
According to Walker, some of the roots of plants reach below the topsoil, preventing them from receiving the amount of water necessary for proper growth.
â€śThat might be part of the reason why corn is not doing well, and soybeans have a better chance,â€ť said Walker. â€śAlso, there is a difference in how the plants grow since corn starts its reproduction phase earlier.â€ť
Addison said hay should also come back a little better with the rain.
â€śIf we donâ€™t continue to get rain, that can deteriorate quickly,â€ť said Addison.
According to Addison, while the change in the seasons is likely to bring some relief for next yearâ€™s crop if the snowfall is normal, it is uncertain what the future holds.
â€śLast winter we had very little snow, and we went into the season below normal,â€ť said Addison. â€śItâ€™s hard to predict how much snow we will get this winter.â€ť
Whitley County, along with 35 other counties, were designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by the drought.