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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Water levels are down at the Maumee River Dam at South Anthony Boulevard. The last rain was on Aug. 22.

Dry weather in area isn’t an entirely bad thing

– The grass turned brown days ago and the city’s rivers are so low, you could probably get across without getting your shoes wet in spots.

We, the residents of northeast Indiana, could probably use a little rain, but the likelihood of getting any isn’t real great, at least for the foreseeable future.

Larry Satek is fine with that, though.

Satek, of the Satek winery, has no reason to believe that 2013 will be anything other than a fantastic year for grapes.

Last year’s drought brought a slew of medals at wine competitions for the Steuben County winery.

Satek, a 68-year-old chemist, said this year is shaping up to be the same.

The bright sunny days with little to no humidity are just what grapes need to produce the nice fruity flavors, sugars and low acidity to make really good wine.

Wet, muggy, cold and rainy summers bring mold, mildew and rot to the grapes and their vines, Satek said.

“The chemistry gets balanced really well,” Satek said. “The nice, sunny dry weather really lets the grapevines produce their best flavors.”

The last measurable rainfall in northeast Indiana was a whopping 0.81 inch measured Aug. 22 at Fort Wayne International Airport, said Lonnie Fisher, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service Office in Syracuse.

The largest amount in the past month or so came Aug. 2, when 3.59 inches was measured at the airport, Fisher said.

But right now, the area is trapped in this pattern of glorious sunny days, blue skies, crisp starry nights and no rain.

“It’s perfect,” Fisher said, adding it’s pretty typical weather for the Great Lakes region.

The weather may warm a bit more next week, and there could be more humidity in the air.

But the dry ground absorbs what little moisture is in the air, which diminishes the chances of thunderstorms or rain showers even more, he said.

The only crop needing a bit more water right now is the soybeans, local Purdue University Extension officials said.

Early in the year, it looked as if it would be a perfect growing year for both soybeans and corn, but the lack of rain is affecting the bean crop a bit.

“That’s how it is when you farm,” said Gonzalee Martin, extension educator for Allen County. “Things can be good for a minute there.”

Soybean plants are tall and green, but the pods containing the money-making beans are rather small right now, Martin said, and if more rain doesn’t come, the yield could shrink.

“That could be a potential problem in terms of reduction in yield,” he said.

The corn is pretty much done growing by this point in the year, and while some areas of the state could use some more water to avoid problems, this region should be fine, Martin said.

Sweet corn is mostly done for the season, and vegetable gardens are finishing up their production. Area watermelons and cantaloupes are smaller at the end of the summer than they were earlier in the harvest, but overall the production of area fruit and vegetables looks good, Martin said.

Hay is nearing its fourth and final cutting, a big improvement over last year, which saw just two cuttings, Noble County extension educator Doug Keenan said.

Early next week, they will be harvesting the grapes at the Satek Winery, a process that will go on for about five or six weeks as the different varieties mature and ripen.

Satek sees everything coming in really well.

“That is perfect grape ripening weather,” he said.

rgreen@jg.net

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