The driest year since 2002 and the second driest in the past 25 years has area producers wondering what lies in store for 2013.
According to North Star Energy records, a total of 16.82 inches of moisture was recorded in 2012. That was the lowest moisture measurement since 13.24 inches in 2002 and the second lowest since 15.45 inches in 1987.
Despite the drier conditions, timely rains and a reserve of sub-soil moisture built up during a series of wet years resulted in one of the better crop years in recent memory for area producers. But farmers and ranchers realize that the sub-soil reserve is now pretty much depleted and additional moisture is needed.
“The wet years we’ve had were a blessing in disguise in that we had a good profile of water going into the season,” Eden farmer Curtis Samson said. “We drew from that sub-soil a lot. We won’t be able to get by with the same scenario next year.”
The dryer conditions were also a blessing for the county road system. Many roads which had been underwater for several years are now useable and the county highway department has been able to do some normal road maintenance instead of constant repair.
Over the past 10 years the yearly moisture has averaged 24.30 inches, nearly eight inches more than what was recorded in 2012. That compares to the 100-year average of 20.04 inches of moisture per year.
The first six months of the past year were right on target for the 100-year average thanks to a boost in April. A total of 4.22 inches of April rainfall pushed the total for January through June to 10.02 inches.
It was the second wettest April in the past 45 years next to 7.27 inches in 1986. But May’s rainfall of just .67 inches was the fifth driest since records began being kept in 1904 and the driest since a .36 total in 1976.
The final half of 2012 saw below average moisture totals for every month except October. A total of 2.65 inches of rain fell that month, compared to the average of 1.35. September, however, was the third driest in the past 33 years, ranking behind the 2011 total of .05 inches and .14 inches in 1979.
The 6.8 inches of moisture recorded from July-December was well below the 100-year average of 9.88 inches.
Dry conditions in the fall and ideal drying conditions for crops made for a “dream” harvest season for area producers.
Hi Low Prec
Dec. 31 17 7
Jan. 1 21 7
Jan. 2 29 13
Jan. 3 23 -2
Jan. 4 24 -2
Jan. 5 24 7
Jan. 6 18 4
Jan. 7 29 -1
Jan. 8 34 14
(North Star Energy)