Paz said two climate scenarios are possible for this fall and winter. If a La Niña forms in the next few months, the Southeast will likely have a warm, dry fall and winter. But if the Pacific Ocean remains in the neutral phase, the result would be rainfall and temperature patterns close to normal. “Each agricultural group I meet with has its own set of concerns,” he said. “And lately, they center around the drought.” Despite the onset of what the SECC calls the “convective rainy season,” rainfall totals for the year remain below average except for in isolated areas, such as parts of central Georgia. The southwest corner of Georgia, around Seminole and Decatur counties, has been dry, too. The drought caused an increase in late planting, and these crops will need ample rain well into September. Paz is one of a team of scientists involved in the Southeast Climate Consortium, which tracks and predicts how the climate will affect crops and farmers in Georgia, Florida and Alabama. “If a La Niña does form in the Pacific Ocean in the next few months, it’s known to increase the likelihood of a warm and dry fall and winter in the Southeast,” he said. “Drier-than-normal conditions this fall and winter will make things really hard for farmers who’ll be harvesting peanuts in September and October.” Colder-than-normal surface temperatures in the eastern tropical Pacific and the greater extent of deeper cool water are signs that it’s “as likely as not that a full La Niña will develop sometime this fall,” he said. Rainfall in western Georgia, northern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle still lags behind. These areas remain in a drought ranging from severe to exceptional, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. “A La Niña is likely to happen this fall, and if it does, we’ll be in deep trouble,” Paz said. “Our rainfall level is already down 20 inches in some areas of the state.” “A winter season with near-normal rainfall would go a long way toward easing drought conditions in Alabama and Georgia,” Paz said. By Sharon OmahenUniversity of GeorgiaThe crowd of Georgia peanut shellers gasped at Joel Paz’s presentation. The slides weren’t gory, but the information was scary nonetheless. Peanut shellers don’t want to hear that the state’s rain deficit will likely continue into the fall. “The shellers are really concerned over the quantity and quality of the peanuts they’ll get this year,” said Paz, an agrometeorologist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “Pasture conditions have improved slightly in northeast and central Georgia,” he said. “But a dry August and September could be stressful to forage crops and grazing herds.” On July 31, the U.S. Department of Agriculture declared 36 percent of Georgia’s corn crop and 40 percent of the state’s hay crop to be in “very poor to poor condition.” Summer afternoon thundershowers brought some beneficial rainfall to the Southeast. Tropical storm Barry was the first to bring relief to the drought-stricken Southeast on June 2, Paz said. Barry came ashore in the Big Bend of Florida and brought welcome, widespread rainfall to eastern and southern parts of Georgia and most of Florida. Farmers statewide would benefit from a neutral climate phase this fall and winter. The state’s extreme drought has already withered pastures to the point that farmers are desperately searching for alternatives for nonexistent or low-quality hay. See complete agricultural climate predictions at the SECC Web site (www.agclimate.org).
Source: MORRISVILLE, Vt., Oct. 21, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Union Bankshares, Inc (Nasdaq:UNB) today announced net income for the quarter ended September 30, 2009 of $1.44 million or $0.32 per share compared to $1.17 million or $0.26 per share for the same period in 2008. Net Income year to date was $3.95 million or $0.88 per share for 2009 compared to $3.76 million or $0.84 per share for 2008.Total Assets have grown $20.9 million, or 4.9%, to $443.9 million at September 30, 2009 from $423.1 million at September 30, 2008 while total deposits have grown $20.8 million, or 6.0%, to $369.4 million at September 30, 2009 from $348.6 million at September 30, 2008.Loan demand from new customers and refinancings continue to be strong with total loans growing to $351.9 million as of September 30, 2009 from $343.3 million, an increase of 2.4%, or $8.6 million, from the same time last year despite originating and selling $59.1 million residential mortgage loans to the secondary market over the last 12 months. The drop in the Prime Rate from the beginning of 2008 at 7.25% to 3.25% by the end of 2008, where it remains today, has driven the refinancing boom for residential and commercial mortgage customers. The impact of the prime rate drop on variable rate loans and new lower fixed rate loans have more than offset the increase in loan income due to volume growth with interest and fees on loans year to date at $16.3 million for 2009 versus $17.0 million for 2008. The growth in loans has been supported by deposit growth. Net interest income increased $157 thousand, or 3.6%, for the quarter over 2008 and $316 thousand, or 2.4%, year over year. The provision for possible loan losses increased $60 thousand from $185 thousand for 2008 to $245 thousand for 2009 mainly due to the growth in the loan portfolio as past due loans decreased from both September 30, 2008 and December 31, 2008.Expense related to FDIC insurance coverage was $566 thousand for 2009, of which $191 thousand was the special emergency assessment, compared to $37 thousand for 2008. The expense for the quarter ended September 30, 2009 was $101 thousand compared to $14 thousand for 2008 with the increase between years attributable to deposit growth as well as higher “regular” assessment rates.A quarterly cash dividend of $.25 per share was declared on October 21, 2009 to shareholders of record October 31, 2009, payable November 12, 2009.Union Bankshares, Inc., with headquarters in Morrisville, Vermont is the bank holding company parent of Union Bank, which offers deposit, loan, trust and commercial banking services throughout northern Vermont and in northwestern New Hampshire. As of September 30, 2009, the Company operated 13 banking offices and 28 ATM facilities in Vermont as well as a banking office and ATM in Littleton, New Hampshire.Statements made in this press release that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements. Investors are cautioned that all forward-looking statements necessarily involve risks and uncertainties, and many factors could cause actual results and events to differ materially from those contemplated in the forward-looking statements. For further information, please refer to the Company’s reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission at www.sec.gov(link is external).