Rain welcome for abnormally dry year; early spring slowing down in NEJC

Spring had been running two to three weeks ahead, but hte gap is closing.
Spring had been running two to three weeks ahead of schedule, but the gap is closing.

Finally, a long rain interrupted what was turning out to be an abnormally dry spring and what had been an early spring as well.

By noon Monday, parts of northeast Johnson County had seen more than four-tenths of an inch of rain in 24 hours. The sensor at Mission Road and Rock Creek had recorded .43 inches. That was welcome news because the area had moved from an “abnormally dry period” to “moderate drought” on the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Dennis Patton, Horticulture Agent for the Johnson County Extension Office, said last week that the dry spring and the lack of a soaking rain was setting the area up for a more extreme drought this summer. “A lot of people are betting on a hot, dry summer,” Patton said.

That early spring that we were enjoying also has been slowing down of late, Patton said. A month ago, we were running two to three weeks ahead of the normal schedule, but cooler weather in early April has closed that gap. Redbuds this year opened two weeks or more ahead of schedule, Patton said.

Plants that come out early can tolerate temperatures in the 30s, but the fear is if it drops to the mid 20s there could be damage. If the weather stays warm and dry through the summer that can put additional stress on plants that would show up in succeeding years. Trees also could produce less spectacular fall color.

As for the Emerald Ash Borer that is taking its toll on the green ash trees so predominant in some neighborhoods, Patton said it is spreading as expected. The real fallout though has not been seen yet – that comes when untreated trees start dying.