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Showers, thunderstorms predicted for this week

July 29, 2003|by JENNIFER SMITS

jennifers@herald-mail.com

Get out the umbrellas and raincoats.

The National Weather Service is predicting more showers and thunderstorms through this evening and says there is a chance of storms on Thursday and Friday when a warm front is expected to pass through the area.

John Newkirk of the National Weather Service said that the predicted storms are not expected to be severe, although there always is some possibility of that happening, he said.

Precipitation for the year is 13.66 inches more than the normal average of 23.99 inches, Newkirk said.

According to local weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site at www.i4weather.net, 3.59 inches of rain have fallen so far this month in Washington County and the average for the month is 3.33 inches.

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All of the rain has meant that some crops, like corn and soybeans, were planted late this year, said Don Schwartz, Maryland cooperative agricultural extension agent for Washington County.

The heavy rains in May and June have led to an increase in diseases in some crops, Schwartz said.

Cantaloupes, melons and other fruit crops are sensitive to wet weather and the constant rain earlier in the season made it difficult for farmers to spray the crops to reduce fungal infections, Schwartz said. He said it is too early to tell how much the season overall will be affected.

Schwartz said that the warm weather and breaks between rainy days in July have been good for crops.

"It's more of a summer pattern," he said.

About an inch of rain per week with sunny days in between rainy ones is good for crops, and heat combined with rainfall allows crops to grow very well, he said.

Schwartz said that corn yields should be good this year despite a late planting, and soybean yields will be average to good.

Hay was harvested late this year because of the rain in May and June and that caused a decline in quality, Schwartz said.

"What it lost in quality is made up for in quantity," he said.

Schwartz said the rain resulted in an increase in the amount of hay harvested, which was needed after two years of dry weather when hay production was reduced.

He said it is too soon to predict how this season will turn out overall, but said he thinks it has the potential to be pretty good for many crops.

"If we can maintain this pattern for another month or two, we could have a very good crop season," he said.

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