Corn harvest moving forward in lower Southeast

Just over 30 percent of the Alabama corn crop is now rated in good to excellent condition as harvest begins moving forward. In Jackson County, fields were losing yield potential every day that rain did not fall, while in Autauga County growers were busy harvesting the early corn crop and yields were good.

Florida growers have been using irrigation and hoping for more rain in upcoming weeks. Santa rosa County reported stress on cotton due to dry conditions.

Conditions in Georgia were much the same, with crop condition related to the amount of rainfall received.

For an overall look at conditions in the lower Southeast for the week ended Aug. 10, here are the reports from the USDA/NASS state field offices.


As the 2008 crop season continued to move forward, summer rainstorms remained scattered leaving the ground in some areas parched and crops thirsty for soaking rainfall, while crops in serendipitous regions flourished.

Extreme hydrological drought conditions were established in several counties across Districts 10, 20, 30, and 40 while all of Baldwin and most of Mobile County remained drought free, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released for Aug. 5, 2008.

Shane Seay, county executive director in the Limestone County FSA office, stated that rainfall remained very scattered throughout the county, with some areas in good shape and others still struggling.

Average temperatures cooled off during the past week, varying from two degrees below to 4 degrees above normal. Daytime highs ranged from 93 degrees in Cullman and Bridgeport to 99 degrees in Hamilton, Tuscaloosa, and Troy. Overnight lows varied from 54 degrees in Hamilton and Brewton to 66 degrees in Headland.

Precipitation was scattered, and totals ranged from 0.01 inches in Montgomery to 0.90 inches in Opelika. Several weather stations across the state remained completely dry during the past week.

Crop conditions continued to vary in relation to the amount of rainfall received. Just over 30 percent of this year’s corn crop was reported in good to excellent condition during the past week. However, Donald E. Mann, county executive director in the Jackson County FSA office, reported that fields were losing yield potential every day that rain did not fall. Leonard Kuykendall, Regional Extension Agent located in Autauga County, noted that producers were busy harvesting the early corn crop, and that yields were good.

Phenological progress of Alabama’s cotton crop was ahead of last year and the five-year average. Kuykendall mentioned that the hot, dry weather was pushing the area’s cotton to maturity faster than normal, and most of the crop needed a thirst quenching drink of water. Alex Brand, county executive director in the Wilcox County FSA office, concurred by adding that without some rainfall soon, the cotton couldn’t continue normal growth.

Over half of this year’s peanut crop was reported in good to excellent condition, with just over three-quarters of the stand pegged.

The soybean crop struggled during the past week. Reporters saw a decline in soybean condition, with most areas in desperate need of rainfall.

Pasture conditions remained virtually unchanged during the past week. Danny S. Miller, regional Extension agent located in DeKalb County, mentioned that evening showers were isolated, enhancing the drought conditions already present in many pastures in the area. In comparison, Henry Dorough, regional Extension agent located in Talladega County, indicated that recent rains breathed life back into pastures and hayfields, allowing producers to resume harvesting a second cutting of hay in many areas of the region.

Jimmy Smitherman, County Extension Coordinator for Montgomery County, reported that adverse weather conditions hampered forage growth. Alabama’s livestock condition showed a decline during the past week, as roughage became less available.

Donald Mann stated that several livestock producers in the Jackson County area were forced to begin feeding hay.


High temperatures for last week were in the 90s. Nighttime lows were in the 60s and low 70s. Major cities averaged temperatures that were normal to 3 degrees above normal. Most of the state saw less than an inch of rain last week, especially in the Panhandle and Big Bend regions. Some areas in the central and southern Peninsulas received substantial rainfall though. Kenansville, Ona, and Homestead acquired 2.7, 3.2, and 4.6 inches, respectively.

Peanut pegging was 98 percent completed, compared to 89 percent last year. Peanut condition was rated 43 percent fair, 43 percent good, and 14 percent excellent.

Hay baling picked up in Marion County.

Soil moisture in the Panhandle was reported as short in most areas. However, the few areas that received rain reported good soil moisture. Growers used irrigation when available and hoped for more rain in upcoming weeks. Santa Rosa County reported stress on cotton due to dry conditions. Soil moisture was adequate for central and southern locations.

Most vegetable growers were finished with harvesting. However, some producers marketed avocadoes and okra last week. In the southern Peninsula, land preparation for fall vegetables was increasing. In Polk County, summer cover crops were being incorporated into fields for fall cabbage and broccoli planting.

Drought in the southwest reduced the state’s pasture condition. In the Panhandle and northern areas, pasture was in fair to excellent condition. Soil moisture conditions were good, helped by rain at favorable intervals. In the central areas, pasture and cattle conditions were mostly good, but ranged from poor to excellent.

In the southwest, pasture condition was mostly good, but ranged from very poor to excellent. The cattle condition ranged from very poor to excellent. Statewide, the cattle condition was very poor to excellent with most in good condition.

In the citrus areas, the heaviest rainfall amounts this past week were received on the East Coast. Ft. Pierce had over four inches for the second week in a row. Ona, located in the southern citrus area, had over three inches. Other monitored citrus producing areas had an inch or less.

Daily high temperatures were into the lower 90s early in the week, cooling off slightly by the weekend.

Grove activity included aerial and ground spraying, primarily for psyllid control. Other activity included mowing, irrigating, and fertilizing. Where caretakers were spending sufficient time maintaining groves, the crop was progressing well. Orange sizes were as large as baseballs; grapefruit are typically larger. Some color break has been observed inside grapefruit in younger groves. Overall, conditions were good in well managed groves and the outlook was good for the next season.


High temperatures have stressed some crops, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office. Daily average high temperatures were in the mid 90s. Average lows were in the high 60s most of week.

Soil moisture conditions were rated at 21 percent very short, 46 percent short, 32 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus.

Rain will be needed to prevent crop deterioration.

The lack of rain caused pastures and hayfields to decline. Cattlemen continued to reduce their herds due to a lack of grazing and hay. The high heat and humidity caused some heat stress on livestock. There was no significant disease damage reported.

Other activities included irrigating crops as needed, baling hay in between showers and feeding livestock. County Extension agents reported an average of 6.5 days suitable for fieldwork.


District 1 — Northwest

“Thunderstorms and showers on Thursday were very helpful. The only problem is they are dropping rains heavily and most running- off, not soaking in like what is needed. But we are thankful for what we get.”

District 3 — Northeast

“Missed a good chance for rain on 8/7/08. Storms seemed to split and go around the county, again.”

District 4 — West Central

“Slightly lower daytime highs towards the end of the week is the only good news. Last 3 weeks provided barely an inch of rain over this county. Soil moisture is backing up fast, as are forages. Hay yield is below average, quality is average at best.”

District 5 — Central

“Very hot and dry! Over 100 degrees a couple of days. Pasture and hayfield conditions declining rapidly. Some producers may have to start feeding hay soon if we don't get some substantial rain and pasture conditions don't improve.

“We are burning up. Our corn crop has burned up. We really need sustained rainfall. Temperatures in high 90s have really hurt us.”

“Scattered rain this week. Temperatures hit 103. Young soybeans dying due to drought and heat. Need rain!”

District 6 — East Central

“Rains have been really scattered, therefore, the crop conditions are varied.”

“Getting spotty rains, need a general rain badly ... time's running out and we know early August is crucial for peanuts and cotton. Grass/hay at less than half of normal in most places. Raising livestock in east Georgia is going to be a thing of the past. Soybeans are ready to begin setting pods and we are watching closely for foliage feeders. Started harvesting a little corn, but it's still in the 20 percent moisture range. No particular disease or insect problem except stinkbugs which will get worse when we harvest corn.”

“Dry, dry, dry.”

District 7 — Southwest

“At present, crops in general are good. However, plants are at a growth stage which requires maximum water usage. Timely rains are needed to prevent crop deterioration. Fifty percent of thae county received 0.7 to 1.0 inch of inch rain this week.”

“Hot temperatures and no rain for last 7-9 days resulting in stressed crops during critical fruiting stage.”

District 8 — South Central

“Getting afternoon showers while picking tobacco and spraying crops. Dryland fields are still suffering, but in general crops look fair to average. Irrigation of corn and other crops. Baling hay between showers and feeding livestock.”

“This past week has been very hot with no rain. Pasture and hay fields have been hit the hardest. Others crops are doing well. We do need rain this week for the others crop to continue to do well.”

“Some dryland cotton fields are cutting out because of the dry weather.”

District 9 — Southeast

“Extreme heat having rapid drying effect.”

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