As rain falls, T-C is way up; county down
In the past three-week period, .87 inches of precipitation has fallen at the National Weather Service weather station in Maple City bringing the yearto date tally to 18.26 inches, more than 1.75 inches short of “normal” for the site, according to the National Weather Service. Much less rain has fallen in areas near Leland and Lake Leelanau.
Rain has been measured three times this month at the Maple City site. Aug. 2, there was .11 inches in the rain gauge after a shower. There was a smattering of rain measured, .04” one week later, Aug. 9. But the bulk of the precipitation, .72” came last Thursday in a rarity this summer, a long, steady, soaker.
For the entire month of July some 1.83 inches of rain was measured.
No one feels the need for precipitation more than Solon Township farmer Keith Parker.
“We could sure use some more rain,” said Parker, who with his son, Wes, have just over 100 head of cattle on their farm on Lautner Road. “Especially as the (corn) ears get closer to maturity.”
The Parkers usually have 140 beef cattle in their barn but have purposely kept the herd small this year, citing the price of feed.
They expect to use most, if not all of their farm’s corn production to feed livestock. Parker said he expects to be cutting corn for silage by mid-September and bring out the combine to shell the corn for feed about Oct. 10.
But in the meantime, additional precipitation would help increase the size of ears and the depth of kernels on the cob, improving yield.
This growing season began in April with two of the three previous months recording higher precipitation than the same month in 2011. In January, moisture was down by about one-half inch, but rebounded in February and March when an accumulative 4.47 inches of precipitation was documented.
The real difference from one year to the next was during the month of June which ended with more than 3.25 shortfall compared to 2011.
Local fruit growers are also hoping for rain to help the apple crop “size” as it reaches maturity.
“Apples … in general could use a little more rain,” said Jim Bardenhagen, who began his harvest of Ginger Golds, an early variety on Aug. 13. “I have trickle irrigation so it doesn’t affect me, but (rain) may not be enough to help some crops.”
Local apple growers are among the few who actually have a crop this year. Statewide, the crop is estimated at about 10 percent of its historical volume. Bardenhagen estimates a 40 to 50 percent crop locally with development depending on the site and variety of the fruit.
Interestingly the rain recorded regionally this year has been equally “hit and miss.”
Through Wednesday, 22.86 inches of rain had fallen this year at the NWS weather station at Cherry Capital Airport. That’s more than 5.5 inches higher than what is considered “normal” at that site, according to meteorologist Tim Locker in Gaylord.
“They had three months in which precipitation exceeded four inches — March, May and June,” Locker explained.
So as the calendar nears the fourthquarter of 2012, when can Leelanau County expect rain?
The forecast calls for a fairly quiet period with seasonal temperatures in the low 80s through Monday. A cool front will increase the likelihood of rain late Sunday, Locker said.