Early corn harvest under way in lower Southeast

Corn harvest got under way in Alabama during the week ending July 20, with other producers side-dressing cotton, completing herbicide, insecticide and PGR applications to cotton, making fungicide and herbicide applications to peanuts, and treating some soybean fields with fungicides to battle disease.

In Florida, crops continued to make good progress with peanut pegging 89 percent complete, compared to 69 percent last year. Most cotton was also reported to be doing well.

Meanwhile, in Georgia isolated showers were greatly needed and extremely beneficial. A high number of tobacco budworms have been spotted in peanuts and growers are expecting more insect problems to arise in other crops.

For an overall look at the situation in the lower Southeast, here’s how the state USDA/NASS field offices assessed the situation for the week ending July 20.


A week of hot, dry weather was experienced by producers across the majority of the state. Soil moisture that accumulated from the previous week’s rainfall was depleted quickly, as the ground baked in the scorching afternoon sun.

Comments from many reporters indicated a need for substantial rainfall, as Alabama’s row crops, hayfields, and pastures were thirsty. Average temperatures during the past week varied from 4 degrees below to 3 degrees above normal. Daytime highs ranged from 91 degrees in Sand Mountain to a sweltering 100 degrees in Hamilton. Overnight lows varied from 55 degrees in Hamilton to 70 degrees in Dothan.

Rain showers were isolated during the past week. Weather stations in District 10 remained bone dry, while Anniston received 2.14 inches of rain.

Montgomery, Troy, and Highland Home all received over one inch of rainfall early during the past week. Weather stations across the rest of the state either remained dry, or received only a trace.

Producers were busy side-dressing cotton with nitrogen, completing herbicide, insecticide, and PGR applications to cotton, making fungicide and herbicide applications to peanuts, and treating some soybean fields with fungicides to battle disease.

During the past week, a minimal amount of the state’s corn crop was harvested.

Comments indicated these fields were adversely affected by a lack of rainfall and hot weather which caused the plants to dry out quickly.

Zachary Burns stated that crop conditions in Blount County were holding on, but many stands were showing signs of drought stress.

Donald E. Mann, county executive director in the Jackson County FSA office, mentioned that hot, dry conditions have dominated the area, and many crop stands and pastures were burning up rapidly.

Alex Brand, county executive director in the Wilcox County FSA office, mentioned that the

county’s corn crop was made, and most stands looked good.

Leonard Kuykendall, regional Extension agent located in Autauga County, reported that parts of Elmore County missed most of the rain that occurred during the previous week, and producers had cotton stands that were blooming out of the tops of the plants.

Alex Brand added that cotton and soybean crops in most areas of Wilcox County needed a good rain in order to continue a normal growth pattern.

Irrigated fruit and vegetable crops in the Blount County area had great yields, while non-irrigated crops were suffering due to a lack of available soil moisture. Bruce West, county executive director in the Mobile County FSA office, stated that the fruit and nut crops in the area looked good.

Irrigated vegetables were in good condition, and non-irrigated crops varied depending on the amount of rainfall received.

Pasture conditions deteriorated slightly during the past week, as a dry weather pattern settled in over most of the state. Alex Brand noted that Wilcox County pastures were beginning to show signs of stress, and grass growth in many hayfields had slowed.

Doyle Dutton, county executive director in the Lawrence County FSA office, indicated many ponds had very low water levels, and producers were not expecting to harvest a second cutting of hay.

However, not all areas have suffered as drastically as others. Ronnie Davis, county executive director in the Henry County FSA office, stated that increased rainfall across the county helped to improve pasture and hayfield conditions.

Alex Mann noted that some producers will begin feeding hay to their livestock during the upcoming week if no rainfall is received.


Rainfall for the week ranged from zero inches at Marianna to over four inches at Putnam Hall and Pierson.

Several areas in the southern Peninsula recorded two to three inches of precipitation. Nearly all locations throughout the central Peninsula received over an inch of rain. Less than one inch of rain was recorded for the majority of the fields in the Panhandle and Big Bend.

Most temperatures in the major cities averaged from one to two degrees below normal. By the end of the week, the heat index and humidity made temperatures seem over 100 degrees in several areas. Daytime highs were in the in the 90s. Pleasant evening lows ranged from the upper 60s to mid-70s.

Peanut pegging was 89 percent completed, compared to 69 percent last year. Peanut condition was rated 24 percent fair, 47 percent good, and 29 percent excellent.

Cotton in Washington and Jackson counties was reported as doing well. However, late planted cotton was growing slow. Some hay was harvested in Washington County. Weed control applications were applied to some Brevard County fields.

For the southern Peninsula, soil moisture levels were adequate to surplus. In less wet areas of the Panhandle, soils dried up quickly leaving moisture levels short to adequate. Soil moisture was adequate in central locations.

Vegetable growers marketed okra, watermelon, and avocadoes during the week of July 14 through July 20. Watermelon harvesting slowed. Avocado movement is expected to increase. Some growers in Washington County harvested squash, cucumbers, butter beans, okra, and southern peas

In the Panhandle and northern areas, pasture was in poor to excellent condition and cattle were in fair to excellent condition. Pastures in the central areas was in poor to excellent condition and cattle were poor to excellent. In the southwestern areas, pasture condition was fair to excellent with most in good condition. In the past two weeks, some pasture has received more rainfall than needed. In Hendry County, some stock ponds were filling from recent rains. Statewide, cattle condition was poor to excellent with most in good condition.

Thunderstorms early in the week brought the heaviest rainfall to the eastern citrus region, totaling 3.5 inches to Ft. Pierce. A tropical low pressure system off the West Coast of Florida was responsible for showers on Wednesday and Thursday and over much of the western citrus producing areas. Ona and Sebring both recorded three inches of rainfall for the week; Immokalee had almost two inches. The daily showers were beneficial to the growth of both the foliage and the new fruit.

Harvest was over for the season and processing plants are closed. Growers were now focusing on grove maintenance, scheduled management practices, and canker and psyllid control.

Next season’s fruit was sizing well across the state. Oranges have been observed at various sizes ranging between golf ball and baseball sizes. Grapefruit tend to be running larger. Trees look good in well kept groves across the state and growers were preparing for the new season.


Isolated showers, were greatly needed and extremely beneficial, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office.

Daily average high temperatures fluctuated between the high 80s and low 90s. Average lows were in the high 60s most of week. Soil moisture conditions were rated at 17 percent very short, 39 percent short, 43 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus.

Scattered rain has helped improve corn, hay and soybean production, in some counties. Pasture and hayfield conditions improved slightly due to rains.

A high number of tobacco budworms have been spotted in peanuts. Farmers are expecting more insect problems to arise in other crops. Drought conditions are still prevalent in areas of the state.

Other activities included irrigating crops as needed and gaining control on crop insect damage.

County Extension agents reported an average of 6.2 days suitable for fieldwork.


District 1 — Northwest “Last weekend we received from 1.5 to 2 inches of slow steady rains. They were greatly needed and extremely beneficial. It has come at a good time for corn and soybean production, and another hay crop. Next chance for rains is first of next week.”

District 4 — West Central “Long, hot, dry week was only tolerable due to fairly good rain on July 13 with over an inch received by most. Little hay put up thus far, mostly clean up cuts on Bermuda, cool season hay yield average less than 1 ton per acre. Reports of armyworms in bermudagrass started this week. Grazing is short; hay still being fed; weeds getting worse in thinning pastures.”

District 5 — Central “Pasture and hayfield conditions improving slightly due to rains.”

“Despite getting around 4.05 inches of rainfall since July 1 we are still in need of rainfall. Much of our planting has slowly taken place and we are hoping we can get additional rainfall to push things along.”

“Still remains dry. Battling weeds in row crops. Haying slowing.”

District 6 — East Central “Scattered rains helped improve conditions. Need more rain for continued improvements. Have seen high numbers of tobacco budworm in peanuts early in season. Expect more problems in other crops.”

“Getting showers, but intense heat is cancelling out the rain. Spraying weeds in soybeans. Corn is getting very close to maturity as heat continues to dry it down early. Dryland corn, if it wasn't already a loss, certainly is now. Peanuts continue to hang in there and a lot of cotton is in full bloom. Rain expected in the middle of the week and this is the critical time to get it. Two things for sure, dryland farming is ultra-risky and one quart of glyphosate for controlling weeds is history! However, we still have clean fields where corn has been rotated and the atrazine has kept pigweed populations at a low level.”

District 8 — South Central “The rains have continued during this reporting period. The crops have responded great to water and grower inputs.”

“Crop insect damage control is at the top of the list in farm activities. Drought conditions are still prevalent in certain areas of the county.”

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