Tips for Irrigating in Extreme Hot, Dry Conditions

Tips for Irrigating in Extreme Hot, Dry Conditions

June 29, 2012

I am often asked if you should operate your pivot during extreme weather conditions with high winds, high temperatures, and low relative humidity. My answer is “that depends.”

Irrigation Efficiency

For tips on getting the most from your irrigation system see

Maximizing Pivot Efficiency (June 29 CW)

It depends on your system capacity and type of sprinkler package. If your system has a limited capacity, it is likely better to continue to apply water even though you may have 15% evaporation and drift from high pressure impact sprinklers.

If you have a sprinkler package that uses coarse or medium groove deflection pads, your evaporation loss will be minimal since most droplets are large enough that little evaporation occurs even in very windy conditions. The small droplets you get on your windshield driving downwind of a pivot don’t amount to much of the total application occurring in the field. However, windy conditions do impact water application patterns. I often suggest that producers limit the amount of time the system operates in windy conditions.

Another way to limit the impact of wind speed and direction on irrigated crop production is to stagger the start times so that water is applied to a specific area of the field at different times of the day.

Chuck Burr
Extension Educator, Phelps County

Bill Kranz
Extension Irrigation Specialist, Haskell Ag Lab, Northeast REC