Crop progress widely varied across Southeast

Strong storms and wind across many areas of the Southeast lodged large acreages of wheat, but also brought much needed moisture during the week ending May 11.

Other areas remained on the dry side, however, and growers in these areas were either irrigating crops or waiting on rainfall to continue planting operations.

Overall, wheat was nearing maturity, corn planting was winding down and cotton, peanut and soybean planting was well under way.

Here’s how the various USDA/NASS state field offices reported the situation for the week ending May 11.


A storm system that pushed through the state during the latter part of the past week brought copious amounts of rainfall for some areas, but left other regions bone dry.

Cindy Owens, County executive director in the Fayette County FSA office, reported that most of the county received over three inches of rain between Thursday and Sunday mornings of the past week. A tornado caused damage to some of the northeastern parts of the county on Thursday.

Larry Forrester, county executive director in the Dale County FSA office, said no moisture fell in the county during the past week, leaving conditions extremely dry. Small grain crops showed the greatest signs of stress. With only a small chance of rain predicted for the upcoming week, corn in the area was expected to begin showing the effects of dry soil.

Average temperatures for the state varied from slightly below to as many as six degrees above normal during the past week. Daytime highs ranged from 82 degrees in Sand Mountain to 92 degrees in Dothan. Overnight lows varied from a cool 40 degrees in Hamilton to 55 degrees in Dothan.

Rainfall was limited mostly to areas from central to northern Alabama. The largest rainfall accumulations were seen in Hamilton and Jasper with 4.22 inches and 4 inches received over a two day period, respectively. Areas in the south remained mostly dry, with a scattered shower or two delivering small amounts of rain in Brewton, Eufaula, Troy, and Headland.

Storms during the past week damaged some wheat acreage across the state. Doyle Dutton, county executive director in the Lawrence County FSA office, mentioned that high winds blew some acreage down. Nevertheless, the majority of the state’s wheat remained in good to excellent condition.

Leonard Kuykendall, regional Extension agent located in Autauga County, reported that wheat stands in the area progressed from the milk stage to the dough stage. Disease pressure was relatively light.

Nearly 90 percent of this year’s corn crop lingered in good to excellent condition. Leonard Kuykendall noted that timely showers gave most, but not all of Elmore and Autauga counties adequate moisture for corn growth and cotton and soybean planting. Kuykendall also indicated that most cotton planting in the area was complete, with two- week-old stands looking better than anything in the past two years.

Producers were busy planting tomato spotted wilt resistant varieties of peanuts even though soil temperatures were slightly below the optimum level. Kris Balkcom, peanut specialist at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center, said the earlier start was due in part to farmers wanting to take advantage of the soil moisture being higher than in previous years. However, Forrester noted that producers in Dale County were expected to stop planting peanuts if no rainfall is received.

Pasture conditions across the state were mostly good to excellent. T.H. Gregg, regional Extension agent located in Etowah County, added that some pastures in the area were overgrown.

Henry Dorough, regional Extension agent located in Talladega County, reported that more producers were spending money on custom herbicide applications in pastures and hayfields. Also, a surprising number of commercial fertilizer applications were made even with high nitrogen prices.

Alex Brand, county executive director in the Wilcox County FSA office, noted that pastures in the area looked better than they have at this time of year since 2005. A drier week allowed producers to harvest more hay. However, cool nights prolonged the drying process in some locations.


Warm temperatures and little to no rain provided a dry week for farmers. Areas of De Soto, Levy, Marion, Osceola, Glades, and Collier counties received less than a fourth of an inch. St. Lucie, Dade, and Highlands counties averaged 0.95, 0.44, and 0.66 inches of rain, respectively.

The highest temperature so far this year was 96 degrees in Lake County; low to mid-90s and 80s across other areas for daytime temperatures. Low daytime temperatures were in the 50s and 60s. Major cities reached highs in the 80s and 90s with lows ranging in the 40s to 70s.

Peanut planting continued with 44 percent completed compared to 21 percent last year.

Potato harvest continued throughout St. Johns, Putnam, and Flagler counties. Several acres of cotton were replanted in Jackson County due to inadequate moisture at planting. Some damage to the crop from sand blasting was also reported. Topsoil moisture was mostly short across the state and subsoil moisture was reported adequate.

Strawberry harvest was in seasonal decline in Starke County. Harvesting of peppers decreased in Pompano, while the quality and quantity of eggplant was good. Most crops looked good in the Suwannee Valley and Big Bend areas.

The watermelon crop was negatively impacted in the southern Peninsula, Fort Myers, and Immokalee by the lack of rain and disease. However, the watermelon crop in the Panhandle’s Jefferson County began to set fruit. Squash harvest began and tomatoes were expected to begin soon in Gadsden.

Other vegetables marketed throughout the week were beans, blueberries, cabbage, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, peppers, radishes, squash, and tomatoes.


High winds and scattered rains occurred across Georgia over the weekend, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office. Daily average high temperatures were in the lower to mid-80s. Average lows were in the 50s and 60s. Soil moisture conditions were rated at 10 percent very short, 43 percent short, 45 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus.

There were high winds over the weekend. Some lodging was reported in wheat fields as the result of the strong winds and rains. The rain was welcomed by farmers.

Lack of rain recently has had a negative impact on wheat and hay crops. Dry weather has slowed planting. Some producers had to quit or finish planting cotton and start planting peanuts due to the dry conditions. Cotton and peanuts were still being planted on irrigated acreage, but most dryland planting ceased.

Farmers were irrigating wheat, corn, and hayfields where possible. It was still too cool for most farmers to plant in north Georgia.

Other activities included cutting hay and planting vegetables. County Extension agents reported an average of 6.2 days suitable for fieldwork.


District 1 — Northwest

“High winds on 5-11-08. Good amounts of rainfall this past week. Scattered showers were welcome but very scattered Thursday evening.”

District 2 — North Central

“Still too early for planting in north Georgia.”

District 3 — Northeast

“Rain in the forecast, but none is falling. Soil moisture is going to be a big problem soon with no rain. Limited rain at first harvest helping hay producers, but hurting 2nd cut.”

District 4 — West Central

“Some of the wheat has lodged due to the storm over the weekend. Possible tornado hit hay barn. Flipped some equipment.”

District 5 — Central

“Some very light showers late in the week. Needing rain really badly! Many hay producers cutting their first cutting of hay. Pasture and hay field conditions improving slightly due to warmer temperatures, but need rain. We haven't gotten any rainfall over the past seven days. This has begun to impact our wheat and hay crops. Some vegetable crops have gone into the ground. However we need rainfall. Our average temperature has been around 81 degrees. Dry weather slowed planting. Irrigating wheat and corn. Received small amount of rain late in the week.”

District 6 — East Central

“Had to finish or quit planting cotton and go to peanuts due to dry conditions. Many fields with marginal moisture. Picked up a little rain Friday morning. Wheat turning, grass growing but need nights to warm up more.”

District 7 — Southwest

“Cotton and peanuts being planted on irrigated acreage. Dryland planting ceased at present.”

District 8 — South Central

“Very dry. Planting cotton and some peanuts. Watering hay fields and wheat fields.”

District 9 — Southeast

“Received 3-4 inches of rainfall reported across the county on Saturday and Sunday.”


Scattered showers across the state last week kept planters idle or moving slowly as farmers searched for dry fields. Tobacco transplanting was delayed due to wet fields, although progress is only slightly behind last year and the 5-year average.

The wheat crop was rated in good-to-excellent condition. Less than one-fifth of the state's acreage was reported having problems with insect or disease damage, such as powdery mildew and cereal leaf beetles. Cattle producers have been treating fly problems. Farmers continued harvesting hay at a rate slightly behind last year. Last week's major agricultural activity, other than planting, was applying pesticides and fertilizers.

There were 4 days considered suitable for fieldwork last week. As of Friday, topsoil moisture levels were rated 7 percent short, 75 percent adequate, and 18 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 4 percent very short, 13 percent short, 69 percent adequate, and 14 percent surplus. Temperatures ranged near to slightly above normal across Tennessee last week. Rainfall averaged above normal across western and eastern portions of the state, while the Plateau and middle areas averaged below.


"Continuous rainfall has delayed field planting and hay cutting. Farmers now have to make decisions on what to plant. Wheat fields have shown great growth in the last week with farmers still applying fungicides where possible." James Griffin, Lauderdale County

"Powdery mildew was found in wheat this week. One inch of rain came Thursday, stopping corn planting and hay harvest this past week. Cattle producers are spraying for flies or applying fly tags to control horn flies. Wet fields may become a problem in completing corn planting by middle of month." Steve Glass, Decatur County

"Rain slowed hay cutting by another week. All signs point to the first cutting of hay to be short as we continue to see signs of last years drought. Some goods days last week allowed for the remainder of the corn to be planted in Dickson and tobacco producers look to be setting in the next 5 to 7 days." Brad Greenfield, Dickson County

"Wheat crop still progressing well. Cereal leaf beetles reported last week in some fields. Some hay harvested this week. Most alfalfa should be ready to harvest when weather cooperates." Paul Hart, Robertson County

"Hay harvesting got under way this past week with yields falling below expectations for this spring. We are getting dry and could use some rainfall." Jonathan Rhea, Jefferson County

"Producers took advantage of good work weather to complete early corn planting, make good progress toward completion of early hay-crop silage harvest, to begin soybean planting, and to make good progress on first cutting of hay. Hay yields are very average at best and carryover hay supplies are very limited. Pastures are making only moderate growth and could use a good general soaking rain. Pastures are adequate to support cattle at this point. Ponds for livestock water are below normal level across most of the area. Winter wheat for grain is developing nicely with only minimum problems observed to date." Bob Sliger, Monroe County


Normal temperatures and below normal rainfall prevailed across the Commonwealth this past week. Temperatures for the week averaged 62 degrees across the state which was normal for the week.

Total precipitation for the week was 0.97 inches statewide, which was 0.06 inches below normal. Topsoil moisture was rated as 7 percent short, 64 percent adequate, and 29 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture was rated 1 percent very short, 6 percent short, 71 percent adequate, and 22 percent surplus. There were 3.6 days suitable for fieldwork.

The primary farming activities for the week were planting corn and soybeans, applying fertilizer, preparing soil for planting, setting tobacco and spraying weeds.

As of Sunday May 11, 7 percent of the burley tobacco plants had been set compared with 17 percent last year and the five-year average of 9 percent. Six percent of the dark tobacco has been set, behind of last’s year’s 15 percent and the five-year average of 7 percent.

Corn planting continued to see good progress last week while it still continued to trail last year and the five-year average. As of Sunday May 11, 69 percent of the intended corn acreage had been planted compared to 89 percent last year and 85 percent for the five-year average. The previous week 54 percent of the corn acreage had been planted. Corn emergence was reported at 40 percent, up from last week’s 18 percent while below last year’s 70 percent and the five year average of 68 percent. The condition of the emerged corn crop was rated 2 percent poor, 26 percent fair, 59 percent good, and 13 percent excellent.

Farmers continued to plant soybeans. As of Sunday 9 percent had been planted compared to 15 percent last year and 16 percent for the five-year average. The previous week 5 percent had been planted.

The winter wheat crop was rated 4 percent poor, 20 percent fair, 53 percent good, and 23 percent excellent. Some lodging was reported following the rain and winds. Some farmers have been applying fungicides to their small grains.

Hay crops were rated 3 percent very poor, 11 percent poor, 32 percent fair, 45 percent good, and 9 percent excellent. Only a few reports of alfalfa weevil have been received. As of May 11, pasture condition was rated 2 percent very poor, 11 percent poor, 31 percent fair, 46 percent good, and 10 percent excellent.

As of Sunday, May 11, 2 percent of the sorghum acreage had been planted.

Strawberry growers reported 51 percent of their berries as small, 41 percent medium, and 8 percent as large.

North Carolina

Most of North Carolina received rain this past week with Whiteville recording 2.58 inches. Average temperatures were above normal and ranged between 59 to 72 degrees. The coastal region is reporting 17 percent of the area's topsoil moisture surplus, while the mountain region is reporting that 8 percent of the area's topsoil moisture is very short.

There were a few unofficial reports of crop damage due to high winds and hailstorms through the Piedmont and Coastal regions.

There were 5.5 days suitable for field work, compared to 5 days the previous week. Statewide soil moisture levels are rated at 2 percent very short, 15 percent short, 69 percent adequate and 14 percent surplus. Activities during the week included the planting of corn, cotton, peanuts, sorghum, soybeans, sweet potatoes, flue-cured and burley tobacco, and spreading fertilizer and chemicals.

South Carolina

Most of South Carolina had ample rain this past week with much of it coming over the weekend. Farmers were busy performing field work, as plantings continued. Strong winds and scattered hail damaged several fields.

Soil moisture improved with the rainfall, and was 4 percent very short, 29 percent short, 62 percent adequate, and 5 percent surplus. The Upstate received the least amount of precipitation, and remains the driest region in the state. The statewide average of days that were suitable for field work was 6.1, unchanged from the previous week.

Corn planting is all but finished for the year. Most farmers were putting out nitrogen in their fields. The condition of the crop was still mostly good.

Cotton planting was in high gear with the early crop being reported in mostly good condition.

Oats continued to turn color, and will be ripening soon. The crop remained in mostly good condition.

Peanut planting was well under way.

Soybean planting was ongoing.

Just about all of the tobacco crop has been transplanted. Conditions, like the previous week, were looking very good.

Winter wheat also continued to turn color. The crop looked very good in many coastal areas with promising yield potential. Hessian fly problems persisted inland, and will negatively affect yields there.

Livestock conditions were mostly good. Pasture growth was ongoing with the moisture. Conditions continued to improve, and are now mostly good. Producers were continuing to bale grain hay. Hay like many of the other crops was improving with the increased moisture.

Peach conditions improved ever so slightly from last week. Vegetable planting was nearly complete for many crops. Growers have been applying disease controls routinely. Conditions for many of the vegetables were also improving.


The southeastern part of the state was still cleaning up from last week’s tornado. Rains late in the week halted progress on planting crops and making hay. Days suitable for field work were 4.5. Topsoil moisture was adequate.

Small grain crops look good with some lodging, due to heavy rains. Other farm activities included sheep shearing, fence building and repairs and liming and fertilizing meadows.


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


BATH (Rodney Leech) “The rain this week helped tremendously with pastures and hay growth.”

HIGHLAND (Rodney Leech) “Rain showers perked grass growth along with warm nights. Corn planting is just beginning. Other activities include sheep shearing, fence building and repairs and fertilization of forages.”

ROCKBRIDGE (Jon Repair) “Farmers were catching up on field work during the week. Most small grains and cover crops that were to be harvested as hay has been harvested. Corn planting efforts were strong this week. Some alfalfa has been harvested; total hay harvest should kick into full swing next week. Producers who thought to save money by not fertilizing forages are going to get a rude awakening, in that fertilized forages will be off approximately 15-20 percent of normal yields. Rains from Thursday night and hopefully during the weekend have been welcomed, as they have kept top soil moisture where it needs to be. Subsoil is still very dry. We have a lot of catching up to do.


CULPEPER (Carl Stafford) “About 6 inches of rain fell across the area since last Thursday. Creeks and rivers were running full and some flooding on bottoms.”

FREDERICK (Michael Clem) “Dry weather early in the week provided suitable days for field work. However, a slight breeze during this period conflicted with orchard spraying. The latter part of the week brought rain and thunderstorms. Rainfall was well over an inch since Thursday, May 8. Fruit set has now occurred on apples and peaches. The fruit is measuring about 10-12mm.”


APPOMATTOX (Bruce Jones) “Hay cutting continued last week with producers feeling somewhat good about yields. Heavy storms on Thursday night gave producers 1.5 to 3 inches of rain over the area and high winds lodged some wheat in localized areas of fields. Early planted soybeans are slow to emerge but this rainfall helped the situation.”

CAROLINE (McGann Saphir) “Soil moisture is surplus in most areas with surface water and groundwater reserves recharging. We have had about four inches of rain since late last week. As soon as small grain crops ripen harvesting and planting of soybeans into crop stubbles will begin in earnest. Small grain crops look good with some lodging seen, mostly due to heavy rains. Vegetable producers are harvesting a bumper crop of strawberries and trying to get into wet fields to set transplants in plastic covered raised beds.”

POWHATAN (Eric Bowen) “Haying is under way although momentarily halted due to the rain. Although several hay fields are in excellent shape, the hay harvest is expected to yield below normal. Hay currently being harvested is being loaded directly on trailers for delivery with very small amounts being stored due to concerns of another drought and hay shortage. Recent storm events and high winds have resulted in wind damage to some wheat and barley fields. Farmers have taken advantage of dry days and are waiting to finish corn planting. Early planted corn has emerged.”


ACCOMACK (Jim Belote) “Heavy rains helped crops quite a bit and brought the water table up. The moisture was badly needed, which will set the stage for ideal planting conditions for full season soybeans. The corn crop is ahead of schedule. Wheat heads are starting to fill out. The tomato crop is in good shape. Potential exists for an excellent potato crop. Intensive scouting is being done in potatoes, tomatoes and wheat.”

MIDDLESEX (Moore) “Wheat and barley look good. Some fungicide applications are still going out on some late flare-ups of disease. Land prep continues for soybean planting and corn planting on low-ground acres. No real problems with corn. Occasional cutworms, crows, slugs, etc., but nothing major at this time. Producers are making plans for bean planting and picking up seed. Most of week was near perfect weather for haymaking and many small fields have been cut and harvested. Chances of showers over the weekend will delay soybean planting and hay making. Vegetable planting continues. Some tomatoes, cantaloupes, and peppers have been set out and are looking good so far.”

WESTMORELAND (Sam Johnson) “Soil moisture was replenished in some fields Sunday with approximately 3.5 inches of rain, while others were left with lakes. Field work stopped for several days because of the rains and there will probably be damage done to the strawberry crop. Barley and wheat fields are lodged from the wind and the rain. A few late corn fields were planted earlier in the week and a few soybeans were put in the ground. Early vegetable and strawberry harvest continued earlier in the week.”


SCOTT (Scott Jerrell) “Steady rains and high winds were experienced this weekend. Crop and animal conditions have not changed. Pastures are looking thin, and not rebounding as quickly as expected.” SOUTHEASTERN

BRUNSWICK (Cynthia L. Gregg) “The east central area of the county is still cleaning up from last week's tornado. Fences are being repaired along with buildings, homes, etc. Producers in the county are cutting small grains for hay as well as some grass hay this past week. Barley haylage is also being made this week. Producers are putting tobacco in the ground. 4-H members and their families are getting ready for the livestock show next week as well.”

PRINCE GEORGE (Scott Reiter) “Rains late in the week have halted progress on corn planting, hay making, and land preparation for peanuts. It will be another 5-7 days before field operations can resume. Some corn was replanted Tuesday and Wednesday but many fields have not dried enough to drive through the affected areas.”

CHESAPEAKE CITY (Watson Lawrence) “Farmers resumed planting corn this week. Wheat continues to look promising.”

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