Lower Southeast crop harvest surges ahead

A dry week across the lower Southeast region allowed crop harvest to push ahead, even though the droughty conditions led to other problems.

In Alabama, an extremely dry week allowed harvest to move ahead at a rapid pace. Corn harvested for grain was reported at just over 80 percent complete, a 14 percent jump from the previous week.

Peanut digging in Florida was 30 percent complete, compared to 22 percent last year and a five-year average of 29 percent.

In Georgia some peanut fields were so dry a rain will be needed to get diggers in the ground.

For a look at the overall cropping situation in the area, here are the reports from USDA/NASS state field offices for the week ending September 28.


Warm temperatures, winds, and little to no rain depleted the soil moisture in many locations during the past week. Producers spent the week applying defoliants to cotton, and harvesting corn, cotton, peanuts, and soybeans.

Average temperatures during the past week varied from eight degrees below normal in Highland Home and three degrees above normal in Russellville and Huntsville. Daytime highs ranged from 81 degrees in Cullman and Sand Mountain to 91 degrees in Bay Minette.

Overnight lows varied between a cool 41 degrees in Highland Home and 57 degrees in Bay Minette.

Only a trace of rain was received throughout the entire state during the past week. The weather station at Dannelly Field in Montgomery accumulated 0.02 inches in one day, and represented the only rainfall received.

An extremely dry week across the state allowed harvest to move forward at a rapid pace. Corn harvested for grain was reported at just over 80 percent complete, a 14 percent jump from the week before. Donald E. Mann, County executive director in the Jackson County FSA office, indicated that corn for grain yields varied immensely within the county. Some growers harvested fields that yielded between 30 to 50 bushels per acre, while others saw 100 to 120 bushels per acre. Mr. Mann figured that Jackson County would average approximately 80 bushels per acre.

More producers began harvesting cotton during the past week, but progress remained well behind last year and the five year average. Mr. Mann stated that Jackson County producers were expected to begin their harvest during the upcoming week, while Leonard Kuykendall, regional Extension agent located in Autauga County, mentioned that harvest in the area was under way with yields varying between poor and good.

The potential for an outstanding peanut crop remained good, as nearly three-quarters of the state’s peanuts were reported in good to excellent condition. Mr. Kuykendall noted that yields were good on the few peanut fields that were already harvested around the Autauga County area.

Mr. Barnes stated that some rainfall would be needed for some Covington County producers to continue harvesting their peanuts because the soil in most fields was dry and hard.

Alabama’s soybean crop showed signs of slight improvement during the past week, but harvest remained behind last year and the five-year average. Yields have varied greatly in fields that have already been harvested.

Pasture and range conditions declined slightly following a week of no rainfall. Mr. Mann added that Jackson County pastures were starting to burn up due to a lack of moisture.

Jimmy Smitherman, county Extension coordinator for Montgomery County, indicated that winter pastures and fall-seeded grazing suffered from a lack of adequate rainfall. T. H. Gregg, regional Extension agent located in Etowah County, reported that some producers were able to harvest a fourth cutting of hay.

The state’s livestock condition remained unchanged during the past week, with most animals reported in fair to excellent condition.


Milder temperatures were welcomed last week, with lower temperatures ranging from the 50s to 70s. Daytime highs reached upper 80s and mid-90s. Major cities averaged lows in the 50s, 60s, and 70s with higher temperatures in the 80s and 90s.

The southern Peninsula received the majority of rainfall. Broward and Dade counties recorded 3.59 and 2.28 inches, respectively. Less than half an inch of rain was reported across most of the state.

Peanut condition was rated 34 percent fair, 53 percent good, and 13 percent excellent. Peanut digging was 30 percent complete, compared with 22 percent last year, and a five year average progress of 29 percent.

Cool nights slowed peanut progress in Lafayette County. Washington County felt the effects of dry soil, making it hard to dig in some areas. Farmers in the northern and central Peninsulas reported favorable conditions for harvesting in fields, while areas of the southern Peninsula reported field work delays due to excessive rainfall.

Cotton harvest began in Santa Rosa County. Dixie County’s silage looked good on irrigated fields. Madison County approached the end of corn harvesting.

Topsoil moisture condition was short to adequate in the Panhandle and mostly adequate in the central and southern Peninsulas. Subsoil moisture was mostly adequate in all areas.

Vegetables looked very good in Hendry and Hardee counties. Some Tri- County locations experienced loss of their vegetable crop and had delays in planting. As of last week, vegetables in St. Johns County progressed well. Tomato planting was completed in Manatee County. Okra, tomatoes, and avocadoes were marketed last week.

In the Panhandle and northern areas, pasture condition ranged from poor to excellent with most in good condition. Some pastures were hurt by drought.

Preparation of fields for winter small grain forage was under way in Jefferson County. In Washington County, some pastures were drying out with forages very slow to come back with nighttime temperatures in the 50s.

Cattle condition was fair to excellent with most in good condition. In the central areas, pasture was very poor to excellent with most fair to good. Some pastures were in very poor condition due to standing water from rain the previous week or from Tropical Storm Fay. There was looper damage of pastures. Cattle condition was fair to good.

In the southwest areas, pasture condition was very poor to excellent with most in fair condition.

Statewide, cattle condition was poor to excellent with most in good condition.

Weather patterns brought cooler temperatures to citrus producing areas. All areas except Immokalee dropped to the low 60s at least one night during the week. Rainfall was nominal in four of the seven monitored areas. Rainfall early in the week totaling over one inch in Ft. Pierce was the largest exception. Immokalee and Sebring had one-half inch.

Normal grove maintenance activity included irrigating, spraying, mowing, pulling out old trees, and preparing for harvest. Growers were actively scouting for greening and spraying to reduce the psyllid population or making the decision to push trees affected with the disease.

Owners with groves next to abandoned citrus that lack psyllid control have concerns. Overall, trees cared for look good with heavy foliage and healthy fruit.

Over a dozen packinghouses have opened and are running fruit. Varieties going fresh include Fallglo tangerines, grapefruit, Ambersweet, and Navel oranges. Only one processing plant has opened so far this season.


Dry weather has delayed planting for fall crops, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office. Daily average high temperatures were in the low 80s. Average lows were in the 50s most of week. Soil moisture conditions were rated at 20 percent very short, 51 percent short, 29 percent adequate, and zero percent surplus.

Armyworms appeared in some fields. Dry weather and cool temperatures caused dryland peanuts to wilt. Hay fields displayed more signs of distress as the dry weather continued. Weeds were reported in pastures and hayfields .

Other activities included growers preparing for harvest, digging peanuts, cutting and baling hay. County Extension agents reported an average of 6.6 days suitable for fieldwork.


District 1 — Northwest

“It has become very dry once again. Great for harvesting but really slows up planting.”

District 2 — North Central

“Commercial vineyard harvest winding down — hay baling continues this week — rain badly needed as pasture conditions decline — corn silage harvest began.


District 3 — Northeast

“Extremely dry weather preventing small grain and fall overseeding of pastures.”

District 4 — West Central

“Dry, we need some rain for soybeans. Good cotton and peanut conditions. Some dryland peanut fields need a rain to get diggers in the ground.”

“Forages are in weak condition, weeds are taking over many pastures and hayfields; soybeans trying to fill pods after a surprising bloom and pod set; too dry to plant small grains.”

District 5 — Central

“Very dry! Need rain very badly. Cooler temperatures.”

“We haven't gotten much rainfall lately, despite experiencing cooler temperatures.”

“Producers cutting and baling hay this week.”

“Drier, cooler weather returns to our area.”

District 6 — East Central

“Has become very dry again. Missing that last rain (dry cold front) cost us soybean and peanut yield. Insect and fungicide sprays have just about ceased. Growers preparing for harvest. Just starting to dig peanuts but will be another five to six days before we're going strong. Some cotton has been defoliated, but only a very little will be picked in the next 10 days. Cooler weather has negated any extra yield on dry land cotton, peanuts and soybeans. Looks like harvest of all three will be together with peanuts taking first priority.”

District 7 — Southwest

“Dry soils are making peanut digging difficult and stressing late planted cotton.”

District 8 — South Central

“Drought, dry weather, breezy and cool temperatures are halting dryland peanuts and affecting dryland cotton. Dryland peanuts wilting in the field severely. Harvesting hay, but some hay fields showing signs of decline and potassium deficiency. A fair amount of cotton is being defoliated. Need rainfall for dryland and don't need rain for farmers harvesting. Catch 22. Yields and quality of cotton and peanuts will be affected by late-season drought and past weather conditions. Hope this year gets over soon.” “This week has been good for harvesting our fall crops. We had no rainfall to occur this week.”

District 9 — Southeast

“Need rain.”

TAGS: Cotton
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