Cotton harvest moves ahead in upper Southeast

Growers in the Piedmont and Coastal Regions of North Carolina took advantage of the lack of rain during the week and made great progress in the harvest of cotton, peanuts, sweet potatoes, and the planting of small grains.

In South Carolina, drying fields allowed resumption of cotton harvest as yields continued to look good.

Many Virginia growers are concerned with the lack of precipitation. Springs and wells have begun to go dry; getting water to livestock has become a challenge. The lack of soil moisture has slowed emergence of small grains and cover crops, and in some cases growers have delayed planting these crops.

North Carolina

North Carolina received little precipitation throughout the week, with precipitation ranging from no rain in many locations to 0.42 inches in Greenville. Average temperatures were below normal for this time of year; ranging from 35 to 52 degrees. Frost occurred in many parts of the state, and the Mountain Region experienced the first snowfall of the season.

The harvesting of field crops is mostly complete in the Mountain Region with the Christmas tree harvest beginning in the upcoming weeks.

The Piedmont and Coastal Regions took advantage of the lack of rain during the week and made great progress in the harvest of sweet potatoes, cotton, and peanuts and the planting of small grains.

There were 6.2 days suitable for field work, compared to 5.4 from the previous week. Statewide soil moisture levels are rated at 5 percent very short, 26 percent short, 68 percent adequate and 1 percent surplus.

Activities during the week included the harvesting of hay, cotton, soybeans, peanuts, apples, sweet potatoes, and sorghum, marketing livestock, and the planting of small grains.

South Carolina

At the beginning of the week, cool, wet conditions hindered farmers from planting, and harvesting crops, but several dry days enabled work to continue by week’s end.

State soil moisture ratings were 4 percent very short, 23 percent short, 70 percent adequate, and 3 percent surplus. There was a statewide average of 6.2 days that were suitable for field work.

The heavy rains the previous weekend slowed down cotton harvest early in the week, but drier conditions later helped farmers return to their fields and continue work. Yields continued to look good. Conditions were 3 percent very poor, 9 percent poor, 46 percent fair, 35 percent good, and 7 percent excellent.

Peanut harvest was ongoing with favorable yields being reported for many people, depending on the rain.

The crop condition was 3 percent poor, 28 percent fair, 59 percent good, and 10 percent excellent.

Sorghum harvest continued.

Several frosts this past week helped increase soybean leaf drop. Conditions were 10 percent very poor, 16 percent poor, 30 percent fair, 36 percent good, and 8 percent excellent.

Sweet potatoes were mostly harvested with most of the crop being reported in fair condition. Winter wheat planting continued later in the week.

Livestock conditions were mostly fair. Conditions were reported as 3 percent poor, 44 percent fair, 51 percent good, and 2 percent excellent. Pasture conditions were 2 percent very poor, 13 percent poor, 46 percent fair, and 39 percent good.

Apple harvest was coming to an end.

Winter grazing conditions were 5 percent poor, 35 percent fair, and 60 percent good.


The Commonwealth experienced light scattered showers and cooler than normal temperatures this past week. Days suitable for field work were 6.2. Many Virginia farmers are concerned with the lack of precipitation. Springs and wells have begun to go dry; getting water to livestock has become a challenge. The lack of soil moisture has slowed emergence of small grains and cover crops, and in some cases farmers delayed planting these crops.

Cattlemen are putting their livestock on feed. There are concerns there will be a shortage in cattle feed due to the lack of hay stocks.

Good progress was made on the soybean harvest, but farmers are still behind schedule for this time of year. In some cases, the soybean plant is still too green to harvest. Furthermore, most grain producers would rather use this time to plant wheat behind the harvested corn than harvest beans. Due to the lateness of harvesting soybeans, grain price uncertainty, and high input cost, farmers speculate over the total wheat acreage to be planted.

Other farming activities for the week included working on combines, taking soil samples, and attending the occasional meeting.


Comments are based on comments reported by Extension agents, farmers, commodity specialists, and other knowledgeable individuals.


ROCKBRIDGE (Jon Repair) “Soil moisture levels continue to diminish. Pasture growth has stopped and some livestock have been moved to stockpiled forages, while others have begun to be fed stored feed. Final hay harvesting is being completed. Due to poor soil moisture conditions, small grains and cover crops are slow to emerge and grow. Corn harvest is behind as producers wait for grain moisture to drop to eliminate drying costs. Soybeans are beginning to be harvested. Water supplies (springs/wells) continue to become non-productive.”


CAROLINE (McGann Saphir) “Soybean harvest is getting in gear after a late start. Soil moisture is adequate. Pastures and hayfields are looking good going into winter. There is some stockpiled fescue, but hay will probably be in short supply this winter. Vegetable farmers are cleaning up their pumpkin fields and planting cover crops in addition to cutting fall greens. Small grains are up and growing. There are still many acres to plant once the soybeans are harvested. Most cover crops following corn have been planted.”

SPOTSYLVANIA (John Howe) “Dry conditions remain in Spotsylvania County and forage growing conditions are less than ideal. Expect soybean yields to be below normal. Good harvest conditions for corn.”


ACCOMACK (Jim Belote) “It has turned somewhat dry, but there is still enough moisture for no-till wheat. The soybean harvest is progressing, but most of the bean harvest will take place after planting wheat. So the completion of the bean harvest is10 days to 2 weeks off. This will be a late harvest. Still a corn field here and there, but corn harvest is 99 percent complete. Farmers are working on combines, planters, taking soil samples and attending an occasional meeting. Wheat acreage may be down due to input cost, price uncertainty and lateness of soybean crop.

MIDDLESEX (David Moore) “Corn harvest is about over. Producers are concerned about low prices and high input costs. Soybean harvest is gearing up and lots of early beans have been harvested. Yields are average to below average for full season beans. Double-crop harvest will begin this week and yields are expected to be better than average. Producers are making corn hybrid decisions now for 2009 as suppliers are making some early booking deals. Wheat planting continues and is ahead of normal. Weather has been good for wheat planting, but has slowed some due to showers, wind and cold weather. Land prep continues for small grain planting. Cover crop planting is also in full swing.”


LEE (Harold Jerrell) “Rainfall for this year is just over 30 inches. The yearly average is slightly over 50 inches. We could see another year with a 14- 16 inch below average.”

MONTGOMERY (Barry Robinson) “Winter grain crops are in desperate need of precipitation due to the recent above normal temperatures and little rainfall.”

TAZEWELL (John Blankenship) “Frost and snow have all but ended the hay season. Ground water is low. Creeks and springs are drying up making it difficult to water livestock in upper grazing pastures.”


PATRICK (Travis Bunn) “There was some relief in the form of rain earlier in the week. Following the rain we have had 4 days of high winds drying out the topsoil somewhat.”


PRINCE GEORGE (Scott Reiter) “Many producers tried to harvest soybeans this week but the green stems in plants make combining tough. Double-crop soybeans are still not fully mature but seem to have escaped freeze damage. The freeze has caused the last few leaves to die off. Wheat planting can only progress as fast as soybean harvest since most wheat follows soybeans. Producers are nearly finished digging peanuts. They waited until the weekend to avoid the freeze Friday morning. It will likely take two more weeks to finish peanut harvest.”

CHESAPEAKE CITY (Watson Lawrence) “Cold frost this week has helped take off remaining green soybean leaves. Field conditions are excellent for field work. Wheat acreage has been largely reduced this fall because of increased fertilizer costs and lower grain prices. Many farmers are talking of cutting corn acreage next year also.”

TAGS: Cotton
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