Irrigation Needs: What’s Needed During Prolonged Dry Periods?

Clint Thompson Alabama, Irrigation, Top Posts

Irrigation in a field with pepper plants.

By Clint Thompson

If it’s not already, it’s about to be hot and dry in Alabama. With vegetable production well under way across the state, one word is on the minds of Alabama producers – irrigation.

Eric Schavey, Regional Extension agent in Northeast Alabama, provides irrigation tips for farmers during prolonged dry periods.

“Usually, the rule of thumb is around an inch of water per week. That’s irrigation, rain; you’ve got to add those up,” Schavey said. “My thoughts on this, if you’re in full production and you have a heavy fruit load, there comes a time when you need to bump that (water) up. You need to move that to that inch and a half, two inches; depending on the crop. If it’s a crop that’s got a lot of foliage that it supports and it’s having to move those nutrients out to its tips like a watermelon plant; it’s got a lot of vine and it’s got to travel and support that vine and then go into that melon itself, there’s times where it needs water and times it doesn’t.”

Schavey said a lot depends on the soil type a farmer is working with. Heavy clay soils probably need closer to an inch, while sandier soils probably require a little more, maybe an inch and a half.