Dry weather slowing corn in upper Southeast

Some of the South Carolina corn crop is being salvaged for silage, while a few other fields are being abandoned and harrowed. Meanwhile, in North Carolina and Virginia dry weather is slowing crop progress considerably.

Here’s how the various state USDA/NASS field offices reported the situation for the week ending June 29.

North Carolina

North Carolina received between zero and 2.81 inches of rain throughout the week. Wilmington reported the most rain with 2.81 inches. Average temperatures ranged from 64 to 83 degrees. Rainfall was scattered and variable throughout the state, which provided very little relief to the drought conditions in North Carolina.

There were 6.2 days suitable for field work, compared to 6.4 from the previous week.

Statewide soil moisture levels are rated at 33 percent very short, 42 percent short, 25 percent adequate and zero percent surplus.

Activities during the week included the planting of sorghum, soybeans, sweet potatoes, and harvesting hay, Irish potatoes, peaches, rye, oats, and wheat.

South Carolina

Many of South Carolina’s crops continued to fair poorly despite scattered precipitation this past week. There were large areas that have missed the rainfall particularly in the Upstate where that region has been short of adequate moisture for many months now. State average soil moisture ratings were unchanged from the previous week at 43 percent very short, 32 percent short, 23 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus.

There was a statewide weekly average of 6.2 days that were suitable for field work.

The corn crop was not looking very good at all. There were a few areas that received precipitation at the right time, but the larger portion of the state’s corn crop has sustained severe damage from the lack of sufficient moisture, and any rain at this point is too late.

Some corn was being salvaged as silage, while a few other fields were being abandoned and harrowed. There is some late planted corn that may still have a chance to make low to moderate yields. For the current week, the condition was reported as 44 percent very poor, 26 percent poor, 25 percent fair, and 5 percent good.

Cotton continued to square, and was holding on in hopes of additional showers. Conditions were 13 percent very poor, 21 percent poor, 54 percent fair, and 12 percent good.

Oat yields are one of the few good things about this year’s crops.

Rains at the end of the week turned some peanut fields around, but overall conditions fell slightly from the previous week. Conditions were 9 percent very poor, 16 percent poor, 54 percent fair, and 21 percent good.

Soybean emergence has been poor where soil moisture has been very short. Conditions were continuing to fall and were 24 percent very poor, 22 percent poor, 43 percent fair, and 11 percent good.

Sweet potato conditions fell, but were still mostly fair.

Tobacco was in need of more water. Height was short in many fields, and plants continued to top out low. The crop remained in mostly fair condition.

Winter wheat harvest was nearly complete with very good yields.

Livestock conditions were still mostly fair. Some Upstate pastures were under moisture stress, and hay fields will miss a cutting of bermudagrass. Conditions were 31 percent very poor, 35 percent poor, 28 percent fair, and 6 percent good.

Peach conditions declined again, but were still in mostly good condition. Vegetable harvests were ongoing with conditions continuing to decline for yet another week for many crops.


Isolated rain showers gave up to 4 inches of rain to a few areas throughout the Commonwealth. However, the majority of the state was suffering from very dry conditions. Days suitable for fieldwork were 6.0.

Soybean plantings progressed only 3 percent. Farmers held off planting in hope that rain would soften the soil and help germination. Soybeans and corn crop conditions worsened throughout the week due to the heat and lack of water.

Cotton and peanuts were at a critical point for moisture, without timely showers the crop conditions will quickly deteriorate.

Irrigation has begun for tobacco and vegetable crops.

Other farming activities included harvesting wheat, blueberries, and zucchinis, planting pumpkins, and fertilizing cropland.


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


ACCOMACK (Jim Belote) “Wheat yields look good. Weather has turned dry, we need rain. Tomato harvest should start after the fourth of July if not earlier. Potato crop good to excellent condition. Soybeans are planted behind wheat with planters right behind combines. Farmers are applying potash and spraying herbicides for soybeans. Tomato growers laying plastic and planting in progress.”

SCOTT (Scott Jerrell) “Lack of rainfall is impacting farmers greatly due to insufficient pasture regrowth, lack of hay regrowth, and surface waters drying up. To date, we are 4.27 inches short of rain which, combined with last year’s drought, puts us in a rainfall deficit of over 23 inches. Scattered showers continue, but are very localized and ineffective.”

WESTMORELAND (Sam Johnson) “Wheat harvest continues between showers with soybean planting close behind. Corn looks good for the most part with timely showers. Dryer week was good for wheat harvest. Vegetable planting and harvest continues. A few fields of early soybeans need replanting or at least going over to thicken them as there was poor emergence(probably due to the colder weather in the spring).


ROANOKE (Sheri Dorn) “Daytime temperatures at or just above average; evening temperatures slightly higher than average most of the week. Weekly rainfall is 1.74 inches, coming by way of afternoon thunderstorms.”

ROCKBRIDGE (Jon Repair) “Rains from the past weekend were very scattered ranging from.1 to 2 inches. The lower part of Rockbridge had approximately 10 minutes of quarter size hail. Damage was primarily to corn. There was a fair amount of leaf shredding. However, it appears most corn damage will not be significant, if moisture continues and temperatures become cooler. Grass, both hay and pasture growth has slowed down significantly and in some areas growth has stopped completely. Barley harvest is being completed and yields appear to be average and in some instances are above average.”


FRANKLIN (Beverly Cox) “Scattered showers helped alleviate some stress on corn and hay fields. Some areas received 3 to 4 inch rains, while other areas were less than 1 inch. Pastures and hay fields have not yet responded to the rain with growth, although they did green up.”

PITTSYLVANIA (Jamie Stowe, Stephen Barts) “Late week rains have done little to ease drought conditions. Rainfall was scattered and amounts were variable. Flue tobacco is showing signs of drought stress. Corn has begun twisting and firing up. Wheat harvest is nearing completion with greater than average yields. High temperatures have taken a toll on burley tobacco. Temperatures and low rainfall have also affected pasture and hay land very negatively. Some cattle producers are expecting to begin feeding hay supplies soon. General crop conditions are worsening by the day and need a significant amount of rain to recover.


AMELIA (Robyn D. Whittington) “Corn is beginning to tassel and the plants are less than 3 feet tall. Most producers stopped trying to plant soybeans last week. The ground is just too hard. Many are feeding hay to cattle and horses as though it's the middle of January. We've all done rain dances and put a little extra in the collection plate, but nothing has worked thus far.”

CAROLINE (McGann Saphir) “Grain farmers continue to harvest wheat and plant double-crop soybeans. They are trying to finish before the end of the first week of July. Vegetable farmers are harvesting blueberries and early summer vegetables like zucchini squash. Tomatoes are very near ripe enough to pick. Pumpkins and other fall vegetable crops will probably be planted this week. Corn has received a couple of light rains in the past week.”


BRUNSWICK (Cynthia L. Gregg) “We are in need of rain. Germination on the corn and soybean crops is spotty in some areas. Small grain harvest is almost complete. Tobacco is being irrigated. Hay is being moved from fields. Next cutting is looking to be very sparse. The heat is causing livestock to find the shade as much as possible during the day.”

SURRY (Glenn Slade) “Soils are very dry, wheat harvest mostly complete, but double-crop soybean planting is on hold until we get rain. Corn is heat stressed with dry conditions and temperatures in the 90s. Peanuts and cotton are getting to the reproductive stage when they will need more moisture.”


LEE (Harold Jerrell) “The drought continues with no recorded rainfall this past week. Pastures are in poor condition and dusty. Several tobacco fields are being affected by the tomato hornworm. Some of the larvae are full grown and entire buds have been destroyed.

MONTGOMERY (Barry Robinson) “Spotty thunderstorms have given certain areas of the county plenty of rain this past week, but also brought some hail. Most crops are doing well, if already in the ground. Areas receiving the recent storm showers have muddy fields and are not workable.”

SCOTT (Scott Jerrell) “Much needed showers have helped green pastures and hay land. It has been so dry, some farmers have abandoned planting corn and are looking at alternatives such as millet or sorghum-sudan.”

TAZEWELL (John Blankenship) “Ground is beginning to dry out. Ponds and stream flow is declining.”

WASHINGTON (Phil Blevins) “We are getting very dry in part of the county. There already are reports of water supplies drying up.”

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