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Local Rainfall Data at Your Fingertips

It is likely that soybean producers in the Midsouth have access to more resources than they care to access. However, it is my opinion that some may be worth more than others, and the following article deals with one such weather resource that may be worth considering for use.

In an April 5, 2019 article titled “Farmers Can Benefit from Participating in the NOAA Volunteer Rainfall Reporting Network“, author Doug Mayo (Univ. of Florida, IFAS Extension, Jackson County Extension Director) provides valuable information about a weather resource that producers can participate in and use to ensure they have accurate rainfall data for a specific location on their farm. In the following narrative, I will provide the important points covered in this article.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sponsors a program called the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) that is a web-based tool where people across the US can voluntarily report daily rainfall through a NOAA website portal. Thus, instead of a producer having to maintain his/her own record of precipitation at their location–or worse, having to depend on rainfall data from sites far removed from the production site–the NOAA website maintains a record of site-specific rainfall from a producer’s own location that has been recorded by the producer and can be easily accessed for future use.

The following are requirements for a producer to become a part of this network:

•   Rainfall must be reported at the same time each day, preferably 7:00 AM.

•   A participating producer must purchase a $32 Official CoCoRaHS 4 in. Rain Gauge for each location from which rainfall is reported to the network. This will ensure the necessary quality and consistency of data collected by each participant.

•   Each rain gauge used to report rainfall to the network must have a unique account and password.

Participating in this free program could benefit both nonirrigated and irrigated soybean producers in Mississippi because it simplifies maintaining long-term rainfall records for a specific producer’s location. These records can be used to determine the association of rainfall patterns with production issues that might have occurred during specified periods of a growing season.

In his article, Mr. Mayo provides examples of how archived rainfall data on the website can be accessed. By using the Total Precipitation Summary, data for a designated state and county over a specified period of time can be obtained. By using the Station Report Summary, data for a specific location (according to Station Name) on a participating producer’s farm over a designated period of time can be obtained. Only the physical location of a rain gauge is shown; i.e., the provider of the data remains anonymous. (Check the last page in the above-linked article for links to free iPhone and Android Apps for smart phones.)

Click here to find out how to become a participant in this program, and here for an online sign-up form.

Mississippi is now a member of CoCoRaHS and is looking for participants. There is a clickable link on the Mississippi site that will also access the online sign-up form indicated above. The contact information for the coordinator of CoCoRaHS for Mississippi is also provided.

As stated in the opening paragraph, this weather resource just might be worth considering for use by Mississippi soybean producers. Who knows, maybe this can eventually lead to a system of coordinated rainfall collections and reporting in Mississippi counties so that agricultural practitioners will have one more tool to use for assessing what may or may not have contributed to in-season soybean issues in specific locations of the state.

Note: When installing a rain gauge, always consider the fetch, which is the distance that water from rain can travel without obstruction; i.e., ensure that the collection of rainwater in a rain gauge will not be affected by nearby buildings, trees, or other objects that will alter or interfere with accurate rainwater collection in the gauge.

Composed by Larry G. Heatherly, Apr. 2019, larryheatherly@bellsouth.net