MOULTRIE -- The people who predict weather said South Georgia would have a wet winter and spring in 2002-2003. So far, they are on the mark.

With spring just around the corner, this is likely to be the first planting season in several years that farmers will begin their crops with subsoil moisture.

"We've begun several years with good topsoil moisture, but now we've got some down deep," said County Extension Agent Scott Brown.

Brown said generally that means good crops. However, he was quick to point out that good production doesn't necessarily mean good product prices, therefore the word "good" becomes relevant to the bigger picture.

Reports around the county are that most ponds are full. A few that don't have large watersheds draining into them may still show lower than normal levels.

Even though Colquitt and surrounding counties have wet subsoils, hydrologists have reported that the aquifer for the area is still down.

Last summer, greater demand for ground water for farming, municipal and industrial usages caused some people to have to drop their deep well pumps farther into the aquifer.

"I dropped mine 16 feet," said Thomas Gray, who lives in the Funston area.

On Friday, the water on either side of the dam at Reed Bingham State Park was about even.

State Park Supt. Jay Lewis said it had been a while since it had reached that level.

"Right now we are about 14 feet above pool," he said.

Lewis said the higher water should mean better fishing this spring and summer.

"A wet winter means fish bedding is more predictable," he said.

He also said the high water should even mean better fishing in the river below the park.

As well, he expects the higher water this winter to have pushed some sediment out of the lake and on downstream which helps weed control in the lake.

He said overall, the higher water has not hindered improvements at the park. He said he had hoped to improve some boat ramps but the high water has put that project on hold.

But, he said, considering all the pluses of good rains, "that's not a bad problem to have."

The Georgia Forestry Commission in Colquitt County showed the rains really picked up in September.

"We got 10.45 inches of rain in September which followed only 2.47 inches in August," said Donald Bennett, a forester with the GFC.

October is normally a dry month with an average of 2.71 inches of rain over the past 25 years. But October 2002 saw 5.36 inches of rain.

November added another 4 inches when normal is 3.3. And December was almost an identical month with another 4 inches measured against a 25-year-average of 3.31.

The year 2002 ended with 53.05 inches of rain. The 25-year average is 50.96.

In January 2003, the county only saw 1.81 inches of rain when the average is 5.69.

But February picked up dramatically with 5.5 inches measured against a 25-year-average of 4.62.

March is also starting off wet with rain forecast for this weekend.

Bennett said it's a great time for burning right now in between the rains, providing that the wind is not too high.



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