Corn harvest winds down in Southeast

Southeast corn growers were beginning to put the finishing touches on the 2007 corn harvest during the week ending Oct. 14.

Harvest of other crops also continued under mostly dry conditions.

The drought of 2007 is still being felt as area growers wait on badly needed moisture to seed winter wheat and other forage crops.

Here’s an overall view of the situation as reported by the various state USDA,NASS field offices.


The unrelenting dry weather caused conditions in Alabama to worsen during the past week. After another week of very isolated rain showers, the U.S. Drought Monitor categorized 58.8 percent of Alabama as suffering from exceptional drought conditions, a 6.8 percent increase from a week ago.

At the same time a year ago, only abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions were experienced by Alabama farmers and ranchers.

Average temperatures lingered at above normal levels again this past week. Russellville and Pinson saw high temperatures that reached to seven degrees above normal for this time of year.

Daytime highs ranged from 86 degrees in Opelika to 92 degrees in Muscle Shoals, Montgomery, and Headland. Overnight lows dipped to a very cool 36 degrees in Hamilton. Mobile recorded the warmest nighttime low at 51 degrees.

Rainfall was scarce at most weather stations during the past week. Accumulations varied from 0.01 inches in Pinson, Marion Junction, and Eufaula to 1.23 inches in Livingston. Year-to-date precipitation deficits continued to build, with Anniston already more than 26 inches behind.

Producers were busy harvesting crops that remained in their fields, and preparing seedbeds for small grain planting.

The last of Alabama’s corn producers were busy wrapping up harvest during the past week, as progress moved forward slightly behind the pace of last year.

Alabama’s soybean crop remained in mostly very poor or poor condition. Farmers harvested their soybean fields at a pace ahead of last year, but behind the five-year average.

Cotton harvest lagged behind last year, but was slightly ahead of the five-year average. Leonard Kuykendall, Autauga County Extension agent, reported that producers were the slowest ever in defoliation and picking cotton because in most places, the crop will not even pay for the costs of defoliation, picking, and ginning. Most fields had cotton plants with small, hard-lock bolls that kept the majority of the cotton on the stalk after harvest. Many producers harvested just enough to satisfy the regulations of their crop insurance.

A few Covington County producers had fields where the cotton crop was still blooming, and had not been defoliated.

The condition of the state’s peanut crop remained unchanged from a week ago, with most of the crop reported in fair to good condition. Harvest progressed ahead of last year, but remained seriously behind the five-year average.

As the fruit season wrapped up, many producers commented on the how effects of the Easter weekend freeze, coupled with prolonged drought throughout the year, destroyed much of Alabama’s peach and blueberry crops.

Producers that had trees in full bloom and chose not to protect them, lost their entire crop when the freeze hit. Other growers had fruit that survived the cold weather, only to lose it to the hot, dry conditions experienced during the summer. Insect pressure from mites also caused damaged to peach orchards in some areas of the state.

Pasture conditions during the past week remained dry, with very little grass provided to the state’s livestock for grazing. Most ponds and streams were either completely dry or very low. Some producers had lost cattle because they had become stuck in the mud while trying to get to what little water remained.

T.H. Gregg, Etowah County Extension agent, noted that a few producers were able to harvest a third cutting of hay. Russell C. Parrish, Jr., Crenshaw County Extension Agent, added that producers in the county saw serious reductions in their final hay yields, and many had stopped seeding their winter grazing due to the lack of moisture in the ground.

Reporters rated most of the state’s livestock in very poor or poor condition, unchanged from a week ago.


Most localities recorded no measurable rain for the week of Oct. 8-14. Only some Atlantic coast areas reported significant rainfall ranging from a little over a tenth inch at Ft. Pierce, to nearly three-fourths inch in Miami. West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, and Daytona Beach also recorded, respectively, from a quarter to almost a half inch of rain for the week.

Daily temperatures averaged two to four degrees above normal. Most daytime highs were in the 80s with Tampa daily highs averaging 90 for the week. Nighttime lows were mostly in the 60s and 70s. Several northern and central Peninsula stations recorded at least one low in the 50s and several Panhandle localities reported at least one low in the 40s.

The dry weather increased the danger of wildfire in most areas, especially in some Panhandle and Big Bend localities.

The dry weather allowed peanut and cotton harvesting to progress in the Panhandle and northern Peninsula. The recent ample rains improved late plantings of peanuts with condition improving from last week. Statewide, peanut condition was rated 1 percent very poor, 9 percent poor, 40 percent fair, 40 percent good, and 10 percent excellent.

In Santa Rosa County the peanut crop is fair to good with digging still active. The cotton crop is very light with yields running 400 to 600 pounds per acre.

InJefferson County peanut digging was slow due to late plantings and variable nut maturities. Hay cutting and baling were active with a very short crop expected. The pecan crop was reported as heavier than normal with some limb breakage due to recent storms.

In Washington County field crops were significantly pressured by worm infestations. Soybeans have the worst levels of white flies recorded in many years.

In DeSoto County fall armyworm infestations were very high in hay fields.

In Hendry County armyworms were affecting crops in many locations. Recent, ample rainfall caused soil moisture supplies to increase.

Soil moisture in the Panhandle was rated short to adequate, while soil moisture in the Big Bend area was rated mostly very short. Elsewhere, soil moisture was rated mostly adequate. Counties reporting spots of very short soil moisture included Santa Rosa, Washington, Jefferson, Suwannee, Lake, Brevard, and De Soto. Counties reporting areas with surplus soil moisture included Jackson, Baker, Marion, Hillsborough, Brevard, and Hendry.

The dry conditions allowed ground preparations and planting to stay very active. In St. Johns County, fall cabbage planting was progressing as fields dried out from earlier storms. In Hillsborough County, strawberry transplanting was active with progress 50 to 75 percent complete. In Hendry County, the cooler, drier weather favored vegetable crop growth and development with armyworms affecting some crops. Okra harvesting continued in Dade County.

Very light amounts of tomatoes were picked in the Quincy area and a very light supply of cucumbers was harvested in a few central and southern Peninsula localities.

Snap bean, eggplant, pepper and squash harvesting was also getting under way.

In Washington County, vegetable crops were being negatively impacted by the highest levels of white flies recorded in many years with fall crop yield potentials greatly reduced.


Cooler temperatures arrived this past week, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office. Average high temperatures were in the mid-70s to the upper 80s. Average lows ranged from the mid-40s to the mid-60s.

Soil moisture conditions were rated at 36 percent very short, 33 percent short, 29 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus.

Drought conditions remained an issue. Fall planting has been delayed in north Georgia. In middle Georgia, the soil was too dry to finish planting winter annuals. Some that were planted early died due to the dry weather.

The dry soil made digging difficult for peanut producers and the quality of hay harvested was poor. Ponds and streams across the state were extremely low. While rain was definitely needed, showers were received with mixed emotions due to the negative effect on harvest. Damage from whiteflies has been reported in string beans.

Other activities included harvesting corn and sorghum for grain, digging and combining peanuts, cutting and baling hay, mowing and harrowing tobacco stalks, and cotton defoliation. County Extension Agents reported an average of 6.5 days suitable for fieldwork.

District comments:

District 1 — Northwest

Showers on Tuesday were a welcome site, but only received less than half inch.

District 2 — North Central

The county got a little rain this past week. However, we are still very dry. Small rain showers this week did little to relieve the current drought — silage harvest nearing completion — fall planting delayed due to dry conditions — many cattlemen feeding hay due to extremely short pastures.

District 3 — Northeast

Showers Wednesday kept situation from deteriorating further.

District 4 — West Central

Dry and hot conditions remain. A little more hay rolled. Too dry to plant winter grazing.

District 5 – Central

No rain! Considerably cooler night time temperatures late in the week. Too dry to finish planting winter annuals. Some that was planted early germinated & died due to dry weather. Hay that has been harvested is poor quality. We are still in the level 2 drought stage. We received a brief shower seven days ago. It's still very dry although the temperatures have cooled off noticeably. No rain. Haying continues. Growers preparing for soybean harvest. The county received beneficial rains last Wednesday up to 2.3 inches in some areas. This was a mixed blessing as there was a lot of hay on the ground that got wet. Even with the increase in rains since September, many of the creeks and rivers are down extremely low. Many livestock producers are concerned about water supply from the streams and creeks that are very low.

District 6 — East Central

Discouragingly dry. Ground getting very hard to dig peanuts. Not much cotton activity — it's taking a backseat to peanuts. Soybeans on verge of combining Group V and Group V1. Can't put in winter pasture.

District 7 — Southwest

Heavy rainfall (3-5 inches). Fields showing pythium. Whiteflies heavy on green beans. Farmers baling all possible hay sources (Texas, millet, peanut, corn stalks, etc.) Dry weather continues. No topsoil moisture. Crops drying down quickly. The rain has been isolated and some of our fields have missed out, we need one more broad coverage rain.

District 8 — South Central

Great harvest weather. Cool morning slowing maturity of peanuts and cotton. Defoliation of cotton and picking peanuts. Harrowing fields for fall small grains. Cutting and baling of hay. Favorable harvest weather increases farm activities and hastens harvest. Whiteflies are damaging string beans. Re-growth is problematic in defoliating cotton.


Tennessee farmers last week took advantage of continued dry conditions across the state to make excellent progress with crop harvest. Cotton growers harvested an additional 20 percent of the acreage. In addition, progress continued well ahead of schedule by over two weeks.

Soybean producers also made good progress with over half of the state's acreage harvested by week's end, a pace almost two weeks ahead of schedule.

A fifth of the winter wheat acreage had been seeded by week's end. However, many wheat farmers are waiting for rain before continuing. Pastures are also in need of rain as over three-fourths of the state's acreage was rated very poor-to-poor.

In addition to these activities, farmers were spreading lime, applying pesticides, preparing tobacco for market, and feeding hay.

For the second consecutive week, there were 7 days considered suitable for field work. Topsoil moisture levels were rated 48 percent very short, 36 percent short, and 16 percent adequate. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 61 percent very short, 32 percent short, and 7 percent adequate.

Temperatures averaged 2 to 4 degrees above normal across the State.

Rainfall averaged well below normal with many locations recording little to no rain last week.

County Agent Comments

"The Farmers in Fayette County were busy finishing up with defoliating, harvesting cotton, planting wheat, and soybean harvest. Many farmers received rain on Tuesday but were able to go back into their fields the following day." Jeffery D. Via, Fayette County

"Fall pasture seedings have emerged and are awaiting rainfall. Ponds continue to dry up. Established cool-season grasses are being hammered by grazing pressure and dry weather, so growth is spotty. Producers are still looking to buy enough hay to get livestock through the fall and winter." Ken Burress, Wayne County

"Parts of the county received about .2 inch of rainfall this week. Some newly seeded ryegrass emerged but died from lack of moisture. A lot of sowing needs to be done but we can't get enough moisture to risk it. Some hay is being cut, mostly johnsongrass and crabgrass." David K. Glover, Smith County

"Weather has continued to be dry! Some areas of the county got trace a mounts of moisture Tuesday. Temperatures in the first half of the week were above normal with highs around 90. A cold front pushed through Wednesday bringing seasonable temperatures with highs in the 70s and lows in the 40s. Cotton harvest is in full swing. Several acres have been abandoned in the driest parts of the county, with other acres reporting fair to good yields. Drought has halted efforts to seed the 2008 wheat crop. Most producers are preparing to seed and are waiting on moisture. It is too dry to prepare seed beds for conventionally planted wheat. No-till producers are waiting on moisture to hopefully germinate winter weeds in order to burn down before seeding. Pastures continued to decline with lack of moisture while producers continued to feed stock." Ed Burns, Franklin County

"Light, scattered showers did little to improve field moisture conditions. Forage is scarce. Ponds are drying up daily and several producers hauling water with continued reduction of herd numbers." John Wilson, Blount County


Temperatures dropped an average of 12 degrees from the previous week, but were still above normal for this time of year. Temperatures averaged 62 degrees, 3 degrees above normal. Rainfall was again below normal with only 0.10 inches received statewide during the week. This was 0.56 inches below normal.

Currently, the Commonwealth is experiencing its second driest January thru October in the past 113 years. Topsoil moisture was rated 73 percent very short, 23 percent short, and 4 percent adequate as of Sunday, Oct. 14. Subsoil moisture was rated 79 percent very short, 17 percent short, and 4 percent adequate. There were 6.4 days suitable for fieldwork.

Main farm activities included seeding wheat, harvesting soybeans, and cutting and housing tobacco.

The condition of housed tobacco was reported as 2 percent very poor, 6 percent poor, 36 percent fair, 48 percent good and 8 percent excellent. Twelve percent of tobacco had been stripped compared to 7 percent last year and 11 percent for the average. Some farmers continued to report their tobacco was drying too fast and losing color.

The corn harvest was nearly complete with 96 percent of the crop combined as of Sunday, Oct. 14. This continues well ahead of the 80 percent harvested last year and the five year average of 84 percent.

As of Sunday, Oct. 14, 49 percent

of the soybeans had been harvested, well ahead of the 30 percent reported last year and the average of 35 percent. Eighty-three percent of soybeans were mature, ahead of last year’s 76 percent but slightly behind the five year average of 87 percent. Ninety- five percent of the crop had dropped leaves compared with 93 percent a year ago and the five year average of 95 percent. Soybean condition was rated 22 percent very poor, 20 percent poor, 26 percent fair, 22 percent good, and 10 percent excellent.

Winter wheat seeding is under way with farmers reporting 25 percent of the crop seeded as of Sunday, Oct. 14. This is behind last years 32 percent and the five year average of 28 percent. Seeding is still slow due to the concern of very little moisture for germination.

Pasture condition continued to deteriorate with 57 percent very poor, 29 percent poor, 13 percent fair, and 1 percent good. Producers reported that they are hauling water to their cattle and feeding hay months early.

South Carolina

The drought continued to take its toll on South Carolina’s crops. The weather was ideal for harvesting, but awful for planting small grains, and winter grazings. The persistent lack of moisture was further reducing already poor yields for many crops. Surface water is increasingly becoming a concern as levels decline. Some irrigation ponds are too low to draw out any significant amount of water.

Soil ratings for the week were 63 percent very short, 26 percent short, and 11 percent adequate. There was a statewide average of 6.7 days that were suitable for field work.

A week of sunshine and little or no measurable rainfall has permitted cotton harvest to continue uninterrupted at a rapid pace.

The state average yield is only expected to be 378 pounds per acre, the lowest in the nation. The cotton condition was 27 percent very poor, 34 percent poor, 31 percent fair, and 8 percent good.

Peanut harvest was ongoing without delays. The condition was 7 percent very poor, 23 percent poor, 47 percent fair, and 23 percent good.

Early planted soybean harvest has begun. South Carolina’s forecasted yield of 19 bushels an acre is also the lowest in the country. The condition of the crop was 28 percent very poor, 34 percent poor, 29 percent fair, and 9 percent good.

Winter wheat planting continued to fall behind as farmers have waited on rains that have not come.

Livestock were in mostly fair condition. Pastures have not looked very good in a very long time. Due to the very dry soils, the planting of winter grazings has come to a halt in some areas.

North Carolina

North Carolina experienced abnormally high temperatures and little rainfall again this past week. Most stations reported having some rain with Old Fort reporting the most at 0.80 inches.

There were 6.7 days suitable for field work compared to 6.3 from the previous week. Statewide soil moisture levels are rated at 73 percent very short, 21 percent short, 6 percent adequate, and 0 percent surplus. Activities during the week included the harvesting of corn for grain, cotton, apples, burley tobacco, flue-cured tobacco, sweet potatoes, peanuts and sorghum.

Other activities included the scouting for pest and disease problems.


The Commonwealth again experienced another week without precipitation. Days suitable for work were 6.8.

Topsoil moisture was generally very short. Many livestock producers have sold calves at recent livestock sales in hopes of reducing the need for more hay and easing the stress on pastures. Hay sources are still in very high demand as winter stocks continue to be fed. Water sources are also remaining a major issue as rivers and creeks remain below normal levels and also as wells begin to dry.

The corn harvest is complete in most areas.

Soybean harvest is under way in most areas with full-season beans providing better yields than double-cropped beans.

Peanut and cotton harvest are in full swing and expected to come to an end within the coming week.

Farmers have prepared land for small grains planting, but are still holding off in hopes of rain to increase soil moisture.

Other activities this week include equipment repair and soil sampling.

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