DRY, HOT SUMMER: SW La. faces water watch

June 23, 2009 at 4:02 am Leave a comment

Drying soil stresses area agriculture
*published June 23, 2009
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

Some folks are feeling the pain of the abnormally dry conditions that continue throughout the area.

“Most of the parish has not had rain for at least three weeks,” said Jerry Whatley, a county agent with the LSU AgCenter Extension Service.

Whatley’s main focus is on crops.

“What’s significant is that if we were having 60-degree weather,” the moisture shortage would not be as bad.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate has 82 percent of the state labeled as short or very short on soil moisture for the week that ended Sunday.

About three weeks ago, 83 percent of the state had adequate or surplus moisture.

Whatley said rice and sugarcane producers are seeing their costs go up as they pump more water from their irrigation wells.

He also suggested some homeowners shouldn’t focus on their yards as much as usual.

“I know most people want to maintain their lawns and gardens, but they don’t realize how much moisture that takes,” Whatley said.

According to the latest drought outlook from the National Weather Service, the area is considered abnormally dry, with the next step being a moderate drought.

“If we don’t get any rain in the next few weeks, we could be headed that way,” said Joe Rua, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Lake Charles office.

This week’s forecast has temperatures in the high 90s all week, with the first chance of moisture on Saturday — a 20 percent chance of rain.

Whatley said the AgCenter expects the scorching weather to persist for the next 60 days.

In the cattle industry, this drought is bringing on longterm negative effects, Whatley said.

“Without proper moisture, the quality of forage decreases,” Whatley said.

For nursing cows, this causes a decrease in milk production, making it harder for them to feed their calves. Pregnant cows use more of their body fat.

“So when they give birth, they are in a poorer condition and struggle to not only feed the newborn calves, but will also rebreed slower,” Whatley said. “All of this translates to lost money for the owners.”

Lake Charles water superintendent Russell Buckles said last week that the city was pumping higher volumes of water to deal with the increased use.

Buckles suggested residents water early in the morning or late in the day and not let water overrun into the street and drains.

Brady Miller beats the heat by jumping the cool water in Prien Lake Park on Monday. With dry conditions and high temperatures expected throughout the week, this and other area water parks should be popular spots for area residents.  BY KAREN WINK

Brady Miller beats the heat by jumping the cool water in Prien Lake Park on Monday. With dry conditions and high temperatures expected throughout the week, this and other area water parks should be popular spots for area residents. BY KAREN WINK

Last Thursday, the Lake Charles Fire Department suspended indefinitely all burn permits and burning in general in the Ward 3 fire district.

“We had been following the conditions and decided as a precaution to put this in place,” said Capt. Jeremy LeBlanc.

He said there had been some grass fires, but not an alarming number.

article link: http://bit.ly/3InZF7

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