Crop yields reflect summer's drought

Most areas of the Southeast received at least some rainfall during the week ending Sept. 16, but the moisture was too late to help most row crops.

However, late soybeans and some peanuts benefited from the moisture as did parched pastures and hay fields.

Here’s how the various state USDA, NASS field offices reported the situation.


The state welcomed cooler temperatures and frequent widespread rain showers this past week, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office.

Average high temperatures were in the 80s and lower 90s. Average low temperatures were in the 60's.

Soil moisture conditions were rated at 22 percent very short, 35 percent short, 39 percent adequate, and 4 percent surplus.

Light showers throughout the week improved crop conditions.

Some producers began digging peanuts this week and cotton defoliation was under way. There was a lot of variability in dryland cotton, with the crop ranging from very poor to very good. Corn yields have been good.

Limbs were breaking on pecan trees from the large crop this year. Worm pressure built in pastures, hayfields, and soybeans. Whiteflies increased in cotton.

Producers prepared to plant pastures for winter grazing and small grains.

Other activities included peanut maturity checks, cutting and baling hay, and spraying soybeans for worms and diseases.

County Extension agents reported an average of 5.7 days suitable for fieldwork.


Significant rains fell in many areas of the State during the week of Sept. 10-16. The rain interrupted some field crop harvesting in the Panhandle and northern Peninsula and delayed some vegetable field preparations in central and southern Peninsula localities.

The showers were light in some inland areas of the Peninsula. The danger of wildfire remained high in some northern Peninsula and eastern Panhandle localities.

For the week, rainfall totaled from less than a tenth inch at Bronson, Live Oak, and Putnam Hall, to about five and a half inches at Orlando. The stations at Lake Alfred and Ona recorded nearly five inches while Daytona Beach and Hastings reported over four inches. Elsewhere, rain totaled from about two tenths to two and a half inches.

Hot temperatures persisted with daytime highs mostly in the 90s and nighttime lows mostly in the 70s.

Temperatures averaged one to two degrees above normal in the major cities.

Frequent showers slowed corn, peanut, and cotton harvesting in Santa Rosa and Escambia counties. Early peanut and cotton harvests showed poor quality and low yields due to drought. Producers picked considerable amounts of cotton without defoliating. Late cotton and peanuts looked very good if insects can be controlled.

In some Escambia County peanut fields, young nuts broke loose from hulls due to early dry weather. Peanut digging continued to slowly increase in Jackson County with spider mites and foliage feeding worms causing problems in several fields.

In some localities, Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus also caused problems. Peanut condition was rated 3 percent very poor, 17 percent poor, 35 percent fair, 35 percent good, and 10 percent excellent.

Peanut digging is 10 percent finished compared with 6 percent last year and the five year average progress of 14 percent. Stink bug and army worm infestations continued to cause problems in some western Panhandle cotton fields.

In the Panhandle, corn harvesting delays were caused by not enough local grain storage facilities.

Sumter County hay fields are greening up.

Soil moisture supplies were rated very short to short in the Big Bend area and short to adequate elsewhere. Hendry and Jackson counties reported a few spots with surplus topsoil moisture.

Some vegetable field preparations and planting were slowed by intermittent rains. Hot, dry conditions in localities missed by scattered showers caused some transplant stress, while strong winds during storms battered recent transplants. In Hendry County, vegetable planting was in high gear. Okra harvesting remained active in Dade County. Tomato picking in the Quincy area is expected to begin during the last week of September.


The remnants of hurricane Humberto pushed through Alabama last Thursday, which brought much needed, widespread rainfall to most of the state. Donald Mann in the Jackson County FSA office stated that 1 to 3 inches of rain was received from this storm. This moisture was expected to help pastures and late maturing soybeans begin to recover from the devastating drought conditions experienced throughout the year.

Temperatures for the state cooled off during the past week, and varied from just below to just above normal. Daytime highs ranged from 90 degrees in Sand Mountain to 97 degrees in Pinson. Overnight lows dipped down to 47 degrees in Hamilton and Bridgeport. Headland recorded the warmest overnight temperature at 61 degrees.

All reporting weather stations received some rainfall during the past week. Accumulations ranged from 0.02 inches in Anniston to 5.97 inches in Hamilton. Cullman received over 4 inches of rain, while numerous other stations totaled over 3 inches. Farmers in Etowah and Autauga Counties worked on bed preparation for small grain seeding, with a few producers having already sown winter ryegrass.

Alabama’s corn harvest continued to push forward, but remained behind the progress of producers a year ago.

The state’s soybean crop remained in mostly very poor or poor condition. Dennis Delaney, soybean specialist with Auburn University, reported that a lot of the crop had been severely hurt, particularly the early planted and early maturity varieties in northern Alabama. The southwestern part of the state was in better condition due to later plantings and more rainfall. The triple digit heat during bloom hurt pod set, but many fields recovered and were expected to produce a fair crop.

Asian soybean rust was found in Baldwin County in late June and several additional counties recently. Producers in the affected areas were spraying fungicide applications. Soybean loopers were also seen in southern Alabama.

Cotton harvest moved forward during the past week. Leonard Kuykendall, Autauga County Extension agent, indicated that some cotton was picked at less than half a bale per acre. Other producers in the county were busy defoliating their fields.

William C. Birdsong, Extension agronomist at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center, reported that some farmers who purchased cotton strippers last year had already started harvest. Yields produced on these fields averaged approximately 500 pounds of lint per acre.

Insect pressure had been light, but there were several reports of leaf-footed stinkbugs in cotton fields this past week. A few whiteflies were also found in the area.

Peanut harvest was under way in Districts 50 and 60 during the past week, with most of the crop in fair to excellent condition. Progress was slightly ahead of last year, but 12 percentage points behind the five-year average. James D. Jones, Jr., Henry County Extension agent, mentioned that a few farmers in the county will start digging their fields in the coming week.

Pasture conditions showed a little improvement with the past week’s rainfall, but still remained in mostly very poor and poor condition. Birdsong noted that many hay fields had a high infestation of fall armyworms, and most producers were busy spraying insecticide applications. The condition of the state’s livestock was quite varied. Some were reported in very poor condition, while others were in good condition.


Two cold fronts moved through the state, one early last week and one towards the weekend, bringing cooler temperatures and showers. These conditions helped improve soybeans and pastures.

The main farm activities last week included harvest of fall crops, spraying defoliants, and preparation for fall seedings.

Corn and cotton harvest was slowed due to rain showers, but the overall pace continued ahead of both the previous year and 5-year average. Soybean development continued to be about 3 weeks ahead of normal. Currently, almost three-fourths of the soybean crop was dropping leaves, while 11 percent had been harvested.

Some farmers, who have completed corn harvest, are preparing fields for planting wheat.

With virtually all fields topped, tobacco growers continued harvest. Despite rain, harvest was slightly ahead of the 5-year average.

Fall pastures improved, but continued to be reported in mostly very poor-to-poor condition. Growth is progressing every day due to rain showers.

There were 5 days considered suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture levels were rated 22 percent very short, 36 percent short, and 40 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 49 percent very short, 40 percent short, and 11 percent adequate.

Temperatures were slightly below normal across the state last week.

County Agent Comments

"Showers this week have been welcome. Majority of corn has been harvested. Cotton acres have had defoliant applied in preparation for picking. None has been picked at this time primarily due to wet, rainy conditions. Rains received will help some with later planted soybeans. It also will help with wheat planting now that we have some soil moisture." Tim Campbell, Dyer County

"We finally got the rain we have been looking for this past weekend with different amounts in different places. Some got as much or more than 5 inches. This causes a problem in that cotton and corn does not need this right now. It is raining today (Thursday) and is supposed to rain Friday. Some cotton is being picked with yields running 500-800 pounds. Defoliation is going out but re-growth is becoming a problem. Some seeds are even sprouting in open cotton. This rain will help pastures and wheat." Jeffery D. Via, Fayette County

"Showers continue to fall on most parts of the county. Pastures and hay fields have shown major improvements this week. Producers are sowing small grains and stockpiling fescue to take advantage of recent soil moisture." Calvin Bryant, Lawrence County

"Pastures remain in poor condition and for the most part severely over grazed. Recent showers have settled the dust and greened lawns. Some drilling of seed is taking place. There will be no second cutting of hay. Cattle are being sold. Cattle in water restricted areas have been moved, or now have access to streams." Cynthia Zeitz, Jackson County

"We received less than one inch of rain by 3:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14. Radar indicated that rain has ended with less than one inch over most of county. Rainfall was not enough to help with pastures, hayfields and dry ponds. During the past week, local volunteer fire departments provided over 50,000 gallons of water to local producers." R. W. Burden, Hamilton County

South Carolina

The entire state of South Carolina experienced some level of precipitation this past week with much of the state receiving an inch or more of badly needed rain. The only area that was slighted by the rains was a streak running from Greenwood to Cheraw.

Despite the rains, soil moisture ratings did not improve, as the ground had been extremely dry. The ratings for the week were 30 percent very short, 50 percent short, and 20 percent adequate. There was an average of 6.1 days that were suitable for field work.

Corn harvest was complete in most of the state. Yields have been fairly decent for most farmers, running around 100 bushels per acre.

More defoliants were being applied to cotton fields. A few people will begin harvesting this week. The cotton condition was 14 percent very poor, 33 percent poor, 38 percent fair, and 15 percent good.

The rain from the past week will hopefully improve the yield potential of peanuts. The condition was 6 percent very poor, 27 percent poor, 47 percent fair, 18 percent good, and 2 percent excellent.

Soybeans have suffered damage from the drought, but the rain this past week may help make a crop yet. Early forecast put the crop at only 22 bushels an acre.

The condition of the crop was 19 percent very poor, 25 percent poor, 45 percent fair, 10 percent good, and 1 percent excellent.

There was still tobacco remaining to be pulled in some fields. Yields have been coming in at a statewide average of 2,250 pounds per acre.

Livestock sales were ongoing due to a lack of forage. Some pastures and hay fields have been overgrazed.

There are a few peaches left to be harvested, not that there were ever very many to begin with this summer. The Easter freeze made for a very poor year for many of the state’s fruit crops. Likewise, the apple harvest has been disappointing as well. The condition was little changed from the previous week.

Now that we have had rain, planting of winter grazing has begun. Some plantings may not occur, as survivability is in question.

North Carolina

North Carolina finally received a substantial amount of rain with the majority of the stations reporting at least one inch. Mount Airy received the most rain with 4.11


There were 6.0 days suitable for field work compared to 6.6 from the previous week. Statewide soil moisture levels are rated at 54 percent very short, 32 percent short, 14 percent adequate, and 0 percent surplus.

Activities during the week included the harvesting of corn for grain, corn for silage, apples, peaches, hay, burley tobacco, flue-cured tobacco, and sorghum. Other activities included the scouting for pest and disease problems.


Cooler weather and increased rainfall was experienced by most areas in the state this past week. Days suitable for work were 5.8. Topsoil moisture was generally short.

Pastures and hayfields remain stunted despite recent precipitation. Livestock sales are continuing with calves being reported as underweight in some areas due to the lack of forage.

The corn harvest continued, but was set back a day or two because of rainfall. Pre-existing dry conditions and a constant wind helped dry fields so farmers could continue harvesting. Yields are still varying vastly across the state.

Soybeans remain in a critical stage of production. The recent rainfall is expected to help soybeans fill their pods that have already been set.

The tobacco harvest is coming close to an end in some areas. Other activities this week include soybean insecticide applications, soybean scouting, lime applications, soil testing and small grain preparations.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.