Early cotton harvest under way in lower Southeast

The beginning of cotton harvest was reported last week in Alabama’s Washington County, with growers in many areas busy applying defoliants with hopes of harvesting their crops within the next couple of weeks.

In Florida’s Indian River citrus area, growers were still dealing with the effects of standing water from Tropical Storm Fay more than three weeks ago. Isolated groves had yellowing of leaves, dying trees and additional small percentages of fruit drop.

Meanwhile, in Georgia, red crown rot appeared in soybeans and a light amount of white mold and some limb rot was reported on peanuts.

For an overall look at the lower Southeast crop situation, here are the reports from the state USDA/NASS field offices for the week ending Sept. 14.


The amount of topsoil moisture available in some places declined during the past week despite the beneficial rainfall brought by afternoon thunderstorms that popped up in several locations across the state. Over 41 percent of the state continued to remain drought free, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released for Sept. 9, 2008.

Temperatures across the state varied from the mid-70s to the mid-80s during the past week, and were well above normal at all reporting weather stations. Daytime highs ranged from 89 degrees in Sand Mountain, Bridgeport, and Union Springs to 95 degrees in Bay Minette, Geneva, and Dothan.

Overnight lows varied between 57 degrees in Belle Mina and 72 degrees in Bay Minette, Mobile, and Dothan.

The majority of weather stations reported receiving some precipitation during the past week. Total accumulations ranged from 0.01 inches in Birmingham to 2.92 inches in Thorsby. Other locations receiving notable rainfall were Hamilton with 1.36 inches, Talladega with 1.98 inches, Montgomery with 1.16 inches, Bay Minette with 1.92 inches, and Brewton with 1.60 inches.

Leonard Kuykendall, regional Extension agent located in Autauga County, reported that corn for grain yields across the region varied from poor to very good.

James D. Jones, Jr., county Extension coordinator for Henry County, indicated that corn for grain yields in the county were approximately 30 bushels per acre in some non-irrigated fields.

Richard Petcher, regional Extension agent located in Washington County, mentioned that some cotton in the area was harvested during the past week. Producers in most areas were busy applying defoliants with hopes of harvesting their crops within the next couple of weeks.

Jim Todd, county executive director in the Mobile County FSA office, reported that some producers expected a slight loss during harvest because of tangled cotton plants.

Soils in the peanut belt had dried out considerably following the recent wet weather. Kris Balkcom, peanut specialist at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center, stated that growers in the area hoped for a rain shower or two to push the late-planted peanuts to maturity, and to soften the soil so digging would be easier. Harvest was under way, but most producers were approximately 10 days away from being in full swing.

Leonard Kuykendall added that producers sprayed some peanut fields in the Autauga County area with fungicides.

The state’s soybean condition improved somewhat following the recent rainfall received. Alex Brand, county executive director in the Wilcox County FSA office, noted that soybean producers made insecticide applications to control worms.

Overall, pastures across Alabama showed some improvement during the past week. However, James Jones stated that pastures and hay fields in Henry County needed some rain.

T.H. Gregg, regional Extension agent located in Etowah County, mentioned that some producers in the area were busy harvesting a third cutting of hay.

Livestock in Alabama continued to show signs of improvement, as pasture grasses continued to provide adequate forage.


Scattered showers brought less than a half an inch across the state last week. Most farmers had a nice, dry week for field work. The most rain reported was in Lee County, 2.69 inches, and areas of the central Peninsula, between 1 and 2 inches.

Daytime highs were in the 80s and 90s, lows in the 60s and 70s. Major cities reached high temperatures in the 80s and 90s, lows in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Peanut condition was rated 29 percent fair, 55 percent good, and 16 percent excellent. Growers continued peanut harvesting in Jackson County and began digging in surrounding counties of the Panhandle. Disease, late harvest, and recent rains delayed peanut progress in Levy County. Peanut digging is 8 percent complete, compared with 9 percent last year, and a five year average progress of 11 percent.

The cotton and soybean crop looked good in Okaloosa County and some corn was harvested.

Hamilton County harvested corn, and worked to recover a few hundred acres damaged by Tropical Storm Fay.

In central Florida, farmers were busy baling hay, now that fields were drying out. For many this was the first cutting. Central and northern Peninsulas reported infestation of armyworms in the hay fields.

Sugarcane was near harvesting in Lee County. Farmers were spraying the crop and expect average yields. Soil moisture conditions were mostly adequate in all areas.

In the vegetable area, squash was planted in Hernando County. Tomatoes were planted in Highland and Hardy counties. The tomato crop was not affected by recent storms and looked good. Vegetable preparation was good and planting was under way in Lee County.

Growers were busy planting tomatoes, peppers, snap beans, and corn. Okra and avocados continued to be marketed last week.

In the Panhandle area, pasture condition was mostly fair to good. In Washington County, pasture grass has grown some but the quality declined. The cattle condition was mostly good.

In the northern areas, pasture was mostly good, and the range condition improved. The cattle condition was mostly fair to excellent.

In the central areas, pasture was in very poor to excellent condition, with most fair to good. The rainfall from Tropical Storm Fay and following rains had much pasture under water, damaging pastures. Some damage from loopers and armyworms was reported. In Sumter County, pasture grass growth had slowed.

Most of the cattle are in good condition. In the southwest areas, pasture condition was very poor to excellent. Statewide, cattle condition was poor to excellent, with most in good condition.

Hurricane Ike, far southwest of the coastline in the Gulf of Mexico, generated just over two and a half inches of rain in the Immokalee citrus area. Not related to Ike, Apopka had about an inch and a half of rainfall. All other monitored areas in the citrus producing counties had a half inch or less. Daily high temperatures were in the upper 80s to lower 90s across the citrus belt.

Growers in the Indian River area are still dealing with the effects of standing water from Tropical Storm Fay over three weeks ago. Isolated groves had yellowing of leaves, dying trees, and additional small percentages of fruit drop.

Other citrus producing areas have gone back to general maintenance schedules to include mowing, fertilizing, weed control, tree removal, and preparing for harvest. Some dryer areas were back on regular irrigating schedules.

Only one packinghouse has opened. However, several are planning on opening in the next two weeks.

The citrus season overall progressed well with good sizes on both oranges and grapefruit. Trees looked good with heavy foliage and healthy looking fruit, and owners were optimistic about a good season.


Showers, over the past week, have improved pasture conditions, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office.

Daily average high temperatures were in the high 80s. Average lows were in the 70s most of the week. Soil moisture conditions were rated at 5 percent very short, 32 percent short, 58 percent adequate, and 5 percent surplus.

Red crown rot has appeared in soybeans. A light amount of white mold and some limb rot was reported on some peanuts. Soybeans, pasture and vegetables were returning to a healthy condition after the damages from tropical storm Fay. Lack of rain was reported in some areas of the state.

Other activities included digging peanuts and finishing up tobacco. County Extension agents reported an average of 5.6 days suitable for fieldwork.


District 3 — Northeast

“Beneficial rains last week, pasture conditions are improving.”

“Beneficial rains in forecast. Hopefully they'll improve soil moisture without hampering hay. The last cutting of hay was virtually ruined.”

“Showers over the past week have certainly improved the pasture situation.”

District 4 — West Central

“Producers are starting to take leaves off cotton, and thinking about digging peanuts. Corn harvest is about over.”

“Almost 2 inches rain over most of the county last week, really helped soil moisture conditions. Forages are green but it's short; soybeans look good; been some armyworms in millet but it is now being harvested.”

“Some light rain this week, need more very badly.”

District 5 — Central

“We haven't gotten a significant amount of rainfall over the past week or so.”

District 6 — East Central

“Raining a little more frequently, but it may be a case of too little, too late for hay and dryland cotton. Soybeans are benefiting from showers and peanuts should be progressing well as we reach time for last fungicide sprays. No peanut disease showing up, but many cotton fields showing stemphylia leaf spot brought on by potassium deficiency.”

“Seeing some red crown rot in soybeans, indicative of the presence of CBR infection where peanuts are on short rotation. This is something we'll definitely warn growers about.”

“Early indications are that 140 day maturity peanuts such as GA Green are on schedule to be dug in that 136-144 time frame but "serious" peanut digging is at least a week away.”

District 7 — Southwest

“Corn and cotton yields were hurt by Tropical Storm Fay. Peanuts will benefit from storm. Prospect for best peanut crop in several years.”

District 8 _ South Central

“Some cotton being defoliated. Digging a few peanuts and finishing up tobacco. A fair amount of white mold and some limb rot showing up in peanuts. Probably will dig some early. Some fields need some rainfall. Other getting scattered showers.”

“The growers started digging peanuts. This crop of peanuts look very good. The office has been profiling peanuts for 10 plus days and two growers started digging the crop. The hay crop looks good. Soybeans, pastures and vegetables are returning to a healthy condition after Tropical Storm Fay.”

District 9 — Southeast

“Asian soybean rust detected at the Vidalia Onion and Vegetable Research Center last week.”

TAGS: Cotton
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