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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist

UK Ag Weather Center

Updated 10-13-22

Getting way too dry in KY!

We finally got some rain yesterday, but for most of Kentucky, it wasn’t nearly enough! Below is a look at those totals. The highest accumulations were seen along a thin stripe from South-Central to Northeastern Kentucky, some picking up an inch or more. Unfortunately, the hardest hit drought areas across Western Kentucky stayed below a quarter inch.

The state will see additional rain chances this weekend, but ultimately, we’re not looking at anything major. This will likely lead to a 5th straight week of below normal rainfall for the Bluegrass State. Below is a look at precipitation and temperature data for the past 30 days. The state has only averaged 0.42 inches, which is around 3 inches below normal. Prior to yesterday, many areas across Western Kentucky had not seen much of anything for a month. In one example, the Ballard County Mesonet station saw 0.29 inches yesterday, but then you have to go all the way back to September 11th to find the last time the station recorded precipitation. 

The lack of rainfall has led to quite the expansion in drought across Kentucky. Below is a look at the latest update to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Nearly 45% of the state is now considered in a moderate drought. Severe drought has even seen a slight expansion across Western Kentucky. If you get a chance, please consider filling out the Kentucky Drought Impact Reporter, which helps shape the map below. This gives us an idea of impacts you're seeing at the local level. Pictures are a huge plus! Even shooting me an email works too (! 

The last time we were this dry during the fall season was back in 2019. At the time, we saw our driest September ever recorded, but that was followed by our 4th wettest October on record. Unfortunately, that’s not happening in 2022. Outlooks continue to lean toward higher odds for below normal precipitation over the remainder of October. Darker shades = higher confidence in the forecast. As much as I hate to say it, I don’t see any drought busters anytime soon.

Now’s the time to be planning ahead. Pastures have arguably taken the biggest hit and many have been feeding winter hay for quite a while now. We don’t want to be hunting for hay when we really need it! Also, many farm ponds and streams have dropped considerably. Alternative water sources may be a need in the near future. There’s even been some navigation issues on the Mississippi River as water levels continue to decline. Much of the Lower Mississippi Valley is in the same boat as us, getting drier by the day and below normal rainfall is expected over the second half of October. I’ve heard this has led to some grain price reductions at the elevators, which places even more importance on storage options in 2022.

In addition; please, please, please take precautions during harvest. Have fire extinguishers on hand and possibly, another source of water. I’ve already heard of a number of fires, and breezy winds combined with low relative humidity over the next couple days won’t help matters. Check out this page from Iowa State University on fire prevention and safety tips.

November-like cold on the way

It may be early, but portions of Kentucky have already seen temperatures dip below the freezing mark and more chances are on the way in the near future. A very cool air mass is expected to settle into the area next week. Below is a look at the 6-10 day temperature outlook, which shows a near lock that we'll see below normal temperatures. Looking at the current models, highs will struggle in the 50s and the potential exist for well below freezing temperatures midweek! Normal lows for this time of year run in the mid-40s! Still 5-6 days out, but something to monitor, especially if you have some sensitive, late season vegetation. Any livestock producers will also need to take precautions as it relates to cyanide poisoning.

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Related News from UK and Beyond

Kentucky Crop Progress and Condition Report - USDA NASS Kentucky Field Office, October 11, 2022

Kentucky Forage News - UK Forage Specialists, October 3, 2022

UK and equine industry partners respond to horses in need after Eastern Kentucky flooding - Holly Wiemers, October 11, 2022

Considerations for Kentucky Wheat Planting - Conner Raymond, UK Grain Crops Extension Associate, Dr. Carrie Knott, Director of the UK Research and Education Center, and Lloyd Murdock, Professor Emeritus, Princeton, KY, October 5, 2022

Wheat Planting when the Soil is Dry- Dr. Laura Lindsey, Associate Professor in Soybeans and Small Grains at The Ohio State University

October edition of the KY Monthly Climate Perspective on Drought and Hydrologic Conditions Webinar Series- Kentucky Climate Center, October 6, 2022


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