A tractor kicks up dust in a field along Highway 37 in Colquitt County Wednesday. The weather station at Spence Field received only about a quarter-inch of rain in September and none at all so far in October.

MOULTRIE, Ga. — According to the United States Drought Monitor released Thursday, Colquitt County is experiencing a moderate drought, which brings some damage to crops and pastures, some water shortages and the slowing of plant growth.

 “There are a lot of later crops like cotton and peanuts that won’t get to finish with the potential that they might have had without the drought,” said farmer Trey Davis of Davis Family Farms.

Dryland farming consists of crops that grow without the aid of irrigation and rely on conservation of water and drought-resistant crops. Without rain, according to Davis, many of these crops are going to suffer. But there is a silver lining.

“The crops that are already finished can come off sooner due to the dry weather. We do need the rain but the crops that are already ready can come off now. But if you get a lot of rain on an open cotton boll, it can ruin that boll and cause it to rot. It’s a double-edged sword,” said Davis.

The weather station at the Sunbelt Expo recorded 0.26 inches of rain in all of September and none so far in October.

“The cotton crop has been stressed due to the dry weather and makes cotton defoliation a challenge,” said Colquitt County Extension Coordinator Jeremy Kichler. “The dryland peanut crop has been affected because of the dry weather.”

According to Kichler, the drought conditions impact the maturity process of the peanut, affecting both yield and grade. The drought also hampers forage producers trying to establish winter annual forages.

“If winter forages are not established in a timely manner, the forage yield will be reduced and cattle producers will have increased feed and hay costs,” said Kichler.

There are some things that even those who don’t have crops should take into consideration during the drought. For example, according to Kichler, watering your trees is one such activity that should be done carefully.

“The best, most efficient way to water your trees is by soaker hose or drip irrigation. Automated lawn sprinklers are less efficient at applying water to trees than soaker hoses or drip irrigation,” said Kichler.

A garden hose can also help provide a good soil soaking if it is moved often while spraying. The best time to water your trees is at night from approximately 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. and the best place to apply water is the dripline, which is the crown of the tree. According to Kichler, trees should be watered once or twice a week, and once you begin watering, you should continue until rain comes.

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