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Michael Wheeler: Drought conditions still a factor despite two rainy days
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This is one of the worst droughts I can remember. And according to a lot of other folks, this one sure does take the cake on how much damage it has caused during the past few months.

Even though we got some rain this week, it will take a bit more than a rain shower or two to get back to normal.

All around the county you can see the effects of the drought. Dying trees, bare pastures and a red clay shoreline around the lake is all you need to see to know things are bad.

Cattle producers have had a hard time dealing with the drought because their operations hinge on having enough pasture to graze and hay stored for the winter. Common practices such as overseeding with annual ryegrass have not been a viable option for them because of the lack of water. As a result, cattle markets have been busy as farmers thin their herds to a manageable degree. 

One aspect of the drought affecting all of us is we are under Level 2 drought water-use restrictions.

We can still do certain things in a Level 2 drought response such as watering plants. You can water your new plantings for up to 30 days after installing them. Fall is the best time to plant woody ornamentals and trees since roots will develop all throughout the winter.

Established turf or other plants can be watered on an odd-even system if you are using sprinklers or an in-ground irrigation system. Odd numbered addresses can water from 4 p.m. to 10 a.m. Sundays and Thursdays. Even numbered addresses can water from 4 p.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays.

You also can still water by hand individual plants or food crops if you use a watering can, a hose with a cutoff or a soaker hose/drip irrigation regardless of the day of the week.

The point to keep in mind about established plants is they only need about a half inch of water every 12 to 14 days this time of year to stay healthy. So as you can see, watering this time of year may become a non-issue if we begin to get timely rains.

Prohibited activities during the drought include washing sidewalks, driveways or non-commercial vehicles; running ornamental fixtures such as fountains; pressure washing your home; or conducting fundraising car washes.

Using water resources outside is restricted, but it’s a good idea to be mindful of your indoor water use as well. Limit shower times, run the dishwasher when it’s full and adjust the water level setting on the washing machine to match the load.

These things may all see insignificant and not worth doing, but as a community we can make a difference.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, ugaextension.org/county-offices/hall.html. His column appears biweekly and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.

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