Early crop yields extremely variable

Southeast growers were seeing a mixed bag during the week ending Sept. 23 as harvest continued across the region.

Corn yields were all over the board and the same was true for cotton. Some growers were seeing tremendous yields, while others waited for insurance adjusters to decide if harvest was even justified.

Wide variations were also being reported for soybeans, peanuts and tobacco.

Here’s how the various state USDA, NASS field offices reported conditions for the week just ended:


Dry conditions in Alabama improved last week, as only 49.1 percent of the land was classified as suffering from exceptional drought compared to 61.3 percent a week ago, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

John S. Pulliam, Macon County Extension agent, mentioned that with the afternoon showers received during the week, some crops in the county began to look a little better. Temperatures were cooler again this past week, but remained above average for this time of the year.

Daytime highs ranged from 83 degrees in Opelika to 91 degrees in Tuscaloosa. Over night lows varied from a chilly 46 degrees in Hamilton to 63 degrees in Mobile. Weather stations from central Alabama to the Gulf Coast reported receiving rainfall during the past week. Accumulations ranged from 0.07 inches in Livingston to 2.60 inches over two days in Brewton. The northern part of the state was mostly dry.

Progress with Alabama’s corn crop was on the downhill slide, as many producers were wrapping up this year’s harvest.

The state’s soybean crop was reported in mostly very poor or poor condition. Russell C. Parrish, Jr., Crenshaw County Extension agent, noted that soybeans in the county were starting to fill out pods. However, most beans were not much past knee high and there was not much of a stalk for the pods to grow on.

The progress of the state’s cotton harvest remained behind last year, but slightly ahead of the five-year average. The crop was reported as showing some slight improvement with the help of last week’s rainfall. Leonard Kuykendall, Autauga County Extension agent, reported that more cotton was defoliated, but many cotton fields were not worth picking. Producers were waiting on crop insurance adjusters to decide.

The condition of the peanut crop remained unchanged from a week ago. Harvest picked up a little during the past week, and progress is ahead of last year, but behind the five-year average. Mr. Parrish added that most peanuts in Crenshaw County had not received enough moisture for the pegs outside of the row to fill out.

Even though most of Alabama received rain during the past couple of weeks, strawberry producers struggled with extremely dry soil conditions as they tried to form beds and lay plastic. Planting was expected to occur over the next few weeks. Doug Chapman, Regional Extension agent and commercial horticulturist, stated that all vegetable crops were suffering due to the drought. Some winter greens were planted.

The pumpkin vines that survived the 100 plus degree temperatures this summer were producing fewer fruit, but there were some pumpkins available for harvest.

The majority of the state’s pasture land was reported in very poor or poor condition during the past week.

However, most areas had received enough rainfall to help green up pastures, but many natural water sources such as creeks and ponds were still dry. Darrell Rankins, beef specialist at Auburn University, indicated that most producers had just finished, or were getting ready to harvest a cutting of hay.

As the winter feeding period approached, hay supplies ranged from one-third to one-half of normal. Many cattlemen planted winter grazing, and were counting on rye grass mixes to reduce the need for hay. Others purchased hay from outside sources at fairly high costs.

Most beef producers had sold their calf crop early, and culled some of their brood cows. Liquidation of culled cattle was expected to resume later during the winter as hay supplies run out.


Scattered storms brought ample rain to many localities during the week of Sept. 17-23. Rainfall ranged from over a quarter of an inch at Tampa to over seven inches in Okahumpka and Daytona Beach. Areas receiving over six inches of precipitation included Hastings and Ocklawaha. Pierson recorded over four inches of rain with Citra, Ft. Lauderdale, Kenansville, Putnam Hall, Umatilla, and West Palm Beach recording over three inches. Elsewhere, other areas received over one to two inches of rainfall for the week.

Temperatures at the major cities hovered around normal to one degree below normal at Daytona Beach and Orlando. Pleasant daytime highs were in the upper 80s and lower 90s. Enjoyable evening lows were in the 60s and 70s.

This past week’s showers helped improve peanut fields’ condition in the Panhandle and northern Peninsula areas.

The rains helped mature late-planted peanuts and softened the ground, which will help accelerate digging in the Panhandle areas. In Suwannee County, peanut harvesting was under way with rains helping growers. Peanut condition was rated 25 percent poor, 49 percent fair, 25 percent good, and 1 percent excellent.

Growers were able to pick cotton as well as peanuts in Santa Rosa County with harvesting increasing. Only a minimal amount of cotton was defoliated in Santa Rosa County.

In Jefferson County, pecans were in good condition, but need more rains for nuts to fill.

Moisture supplies in the Panhandle and northern Peninsula areas was mostly short to adequate. Santa Rosa reported short to surplus supplies. Throughout the central and southern Peninsula localities soil moisture supplies was mostly short to adequate with a few pockets surplus supplies.

Scattered thunderstorms hampered some vegetable field activities in central and southern Peninsula areas. Tomato picking was slowly increasing around Quincy and getting under way in the southern Peninsula. Several tomato growers will not be replanting this year due to low market prices.

Vegetables were in good condition in Hendry County with planting in full swing. Planting of cabbage as well as other fall vegetables was hindered due to recent rains with growers waiting on fields to drain to resume planting in Flagler County. Okra remained in good condition as harvesting continues in Dade County.


Southern areas of the state received scattered rain showers this past week, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office.

Average high temperatures were in the 80s most of the week. Average lows ranged from the upper 50s to the lower 70s.

Soil moisture conditions were rated at 21 percent very short, 35 percent short, 39 percent adequate, and 5 percent surplus.

Showers that fell across southern Georgia this week delayed cotton and peanut harvest. Cotton producers were worried about cotton boll rot showing up.

Northern Georgia did not receive any significant rainfall this week and crop conditions declined.

Some cattlemen were feeding hay to livestock.

Dryland peanuts needed water to facilitate digging.

There were heavy armyworm infestations in some pastures and hayfields. Producers planted small grains and pastures for winter grazing.

Other activities included checking peanut maturity, grading peanuts, cutting and baling hay, and mowing tobacco stalks. County Extension agents reported an average of 6.0 days suitable for fieldwork.

District comments

District 2 — North Central

Despite no rain, light cuttings of hay being made around the county. Drought continues to worsen with crop condition continuing to decline — some cattlemen feeding hay — corn silage yield disappointing. Forage crops that are getting spotty rains are also coming in with high nitrate levels. Some as high as 25,000 ppm which will not allow it to be fed to cattle or sheep or goats.

District 4 — West Central

Desperately need rain. Lot of hay rolled last week. Soil moisture conditions getting worse again after a brief bit of cooler temperatures and increased scattered showers.

District 5 — Central

No rain this week. Heavy armyworm infestations in some pastures and hayfields. Small grain and winter grazing planting underway. Our weather conditions have remained consistent with recent weeks. A lot of hay cut and baled this past week. Armyworms continue to be a problem in many fields in our area. Scattered rain and sprinkles. Cattle producers beginning to plant winter grazing. Rains fell on much of the county last Thursday and Friday helping out our pastures and hayfields. A second cutting of summer grass hay is under way.

District 6 — East Central

Great soybean potential, cotton worse than thought, peanuts very good, need a late freeze! Cooler temperatures and scattered showers.

District 7 – Southwest

Moisture limited. Dryland peanuts need water to facilitate digging operation. Moisture needed to promote final cutting of hay fields. We received 0.98" of rainfall. Last high quality hay harvesting. Peanut

digging started. Topsoil moisture continues to decline. Effects of high temperatures earlier are showing up on soybean and peanut reproduction. Adequate rains still have not occurred. Needed rain, but worried about cotton boll rot and affecting peanut digging. Cutting hay. Mowing tobacco stalks and harrowing. Mowing around fields getting ready for harvest. Checking peanuts for maturity.

District 8 — South Central

Rainy conditions for this weekend will slow harvest of cotton and peanuts. Early peanut grades running 70-71 for AP-3, earliest planted 02-C were dug Friday and then combined on Monday grades were 71-73. Rained 7 tenths of an inch on early Friday morning.

District 9 — Southeast

Some rain on Wednesday and Thursday.


Tennessee producers took advantage of the mostly dry, warm weather last week as they made excellent progress with row crop harvest.

Corn producers continued harvesting rapidly at a pace almost three weeks ahead of normal. Corn silage harvest neared completion, on pace with last year and the five-year average.

Soybean farmers also took advantage of last week’s dry conditions to advance harvest. Soybean maturity, at week’s end, was two weeks ahead of the five-year average.

Cotton defoliation continued, as harvest also jumped, advancing one week ahead of normal.

Tobacco growers continued harvest with progress running near the normal pace.

Fertilizer, pesticide and defoliant applications, preparation for winter wheat seedings, and burley stripping were some of the other activities taking place last week.

High temperatures and below normal rainfall were reported across the entire state last week, allowing all 7 days for field work. Topsoil moisture levels were rated 29 percent very short, 47 percent short, and 24 percent adequate. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 53 percent very short, 39 percent short, and 8 percent adequate.

County Agent Comments

“Cotton harvest is well under way. Yields are off significantly and picking is ugly, most have stalk cutters behind pickers. Re-growth, where not addressed earlier, will be a problem in unpicked fields. Soybeans harvested are small, low quality, and yields depressed. Corn yields, as I suspected, were some better than anticipated but not what could have been under adequate rainfall conditions. Additional rain will help small grain and forage potential but will hinder cotton harvest, although it is early historically.” Jerry Parker, Lauderdale County

“Producers are quickly completing the corn harvest and some producers are well into soybean harvest. Warm temperatures are keeping late season soybeans growing and moving toward maturity. Field work continues in preparing for wheat seeding. Many producers are making burn-down applications for no-till wheat. Forage producers are looking at a late cutting of hay. Some hay producers have made insecticide applications to forages for armyworm control.” Jeff Lannom, Weakley County

“Things in Giles County about the same. Last week's rainfall has dried out. Corn yields are surprisingly better than expected in parts of the county. Soybeans are a different story as some loads are being rejected due to very poor quality. Fall armyworms have been reported in alfalfa, soybeans and late planted sudangrass.” Kevin Rose, Giles County

“Pastures and hay fields being re-seeded with winter annuals, rye and ryegrass. Some fescue/orchardgrass also seeded. Need a good rain to get seed up. Still doing nitrate tests on johnsongrass and sorghum-sudan. Some fields still showing positive. We are ordering hay from out-of-state for farmers.” David K. Glover, Smith County

“Silage has yielded lower than expected with little hope of a good shelled corn crop. Livestock pastures are bare and water sources are still extremely low.” Anthony M. Shelton, Washington County

South Carolina

Crops located along South Carolina’s coastal locations saw improvement from the off-shore rains coming in, while inland areas deteriorated due to the lack of moisture. Soils continued to dry, as most of the State did not receive any significant amount of rainfall.

The moisture ratings for the past week were 39 percent very short, 42 percent short, and 19 percent adequate. There was an average of 6.2 days that were suitable for field work.

The corn harvest was winding down. Yields were still looking fairly decent. Cotton harvest began last week. Yields for this crop have not been looking good so far, coming in at only slightly more than a bale per acre. There were some reports of cotton in so poor condition that it will not be harvested. Some unharvested fields have already been mowed down. The cotton condition was 21 percent very poor, 34 percent poor, 34 percent fair, and 11 percent good.

Peanut harvest was under way. Coastal farmers will be digging, as soon as they have adequate sunshine. The condition was 6 percent very poor, 20 percent poor, 53 percent fair, 19 percent good, and 2 percent excellent.

Asian soybean rust has been found in South Carolina for the first time this year. Rust was confirmed in both Barnwell and Orangeburg counties. Many farmers were applying fungicides to prevent the disease’s spread. The condition of the crop was 26 percent very poor, 33 percent poor, 31 percent fair, 9 percent good, and 1 percent excellent.

Almost all the tobacco crop has been brought in from the field this year.

Livestock sales continued, as they have for awhile, due to the lack of hay stocks and adequate pasture.

The peach harvest has been completed for this year. Apple picking continued. The crop remained in very poor to fair condition. There were winter grazings planters that were waiting for more rain to add to soil moisture before seeding activities could begin.

North Carolina

North Carolina received limited rain with the Coastal Region having the most precipitation. Wilmington received the most rain with 1.99 inches.

There were 6.1 days suitable for field work compared to 6.0 from the previous week. Statewide soil moisture levels are rated at 40 percent very short, 38 percent short, 22 percent adequate, and 0 percent surplus.

Activities during the week included the harvesting of corn for grain, corn for silage, apples, hay, burley tobacco, flue-cured tobacco, sweetpotatoes, and sorghum.

Other activities included the scouting for pest and disease problems.


It was a dry week for most of the Commonwealth. Days suitable for work were 6.7. Topsoil moisture was generally very short.

Pastures and hayfields remain in poor condition. Livestock producers were supplementing pasture with hay.

The corn harvest continues with higher than expected yields in some areas.

Soybeans remain in a critical stage of production.

Vegetable harvest is nearing completion with the exception of tomatoes, sweet potatoes and pumpkins.

Other activities this past week included stalk shredding, bushogging, soil sampling and lime applications.

Reporter comments by county

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

Accomack (Jim Belote)

Corn harvest is delayed. Moisture is still too high, 19 to 23 percent. Reported yields of 20 to 150 bushels per acre with many at 75 to 85 bushels per acre. Soybean yield will be cut at least 30 percent due to lack of rain. Wheat seed is getting hard to get, especially the best varieties. Farmers are working on equipment, trimming ditch banks and getting trucks ready to haul grain. Corn harvest should pick up significantly next week. Fall tomato harvest is about over. Yields were off this year and prices low. Some spraying is being done for disease and insects in fall snap beans. Farmers are cleaning up harvested corn fields for wheat planting and taking soil samples.

Middlesex (David Moore)

Corn harvest is in full swing. Yields are from 50-130, some spots even higher. Later maturing hybrids seem to have yielded better. Double-crop soybeans still need moisture to fill completely out. Yields will be average to below average. Many full season beans are dropping leaves. Vegetable harvest is about over with the exception of tomatoes, sweet potatoes and pumpkins. Activities this past week included corn harvest, land prep for small grains, barley and cover crop planting, stalk shredding and bushogging, soil sampling and lime spreading.

Westmoreland (Sam Johnson)

Another dry week which was hard on late soybeans trying to fill pods. Corn harvest continued with yields again mostly in the 40 to 70 range. A few fields have recorded 120 bushel yields. These were on a good soil type and caught a thunder shower at the right time. Broccoli is approaching harvest condition. A few pumpkins being harvested along with small quantities of other vegetables. Some hay fields had enough growth for a small cutting.

Amherst (William W. Seay)

Dry conditions continue. Livestock producers are supplementing pasture with hay.

Caroline (McGann Saphir)

Very dry conditions have deteriorated the condition of late planted soybeans even more. Crop losses will probably reach 50-60 percent or more. Pastures and hayfields are in poor condition. Vegetable farmers are harvesting the last of the tomatoes and other summer crops. Pumpkins and winter squash are nearing harvest. Winter greens have been planted. Strawberry farmers are planting next year’s crop.

Brunswick (Cynthia L. Gregg)

A bit of rain helped, but did not last long last week. Producers are baling corn stalks where possible. Crop Insurance has let some soybeans go and they are being harvested for hay. Pastures are in need of rain, very little stockpiling is going on. Crops are short but harvest is going on as it can in places. Cattle are being sold as feed reserves are dwindling.

Surry (Glenn Slade)

The area is still dry, corn harvest is well under way with a wide range of yields, 20 to 90 bushels. Cotton is being defoliated, with estimated yields of about 600 pounds. Peanut digging is still about a week away with estimated yields of about 2400 pounds per acre.

Chesapeake City (Watson Lawrence)

Dry weather continues to stall soybean pod development. Scattered showers have done little to rejuvenate crops. Soybeans are largely at risk now, as yield potential drops each day in this drought. Many livestock and horse folks looking for hay supplies to get them through the winter. Many un-irrigated fall vegetables have failed. Corn harvest is continuing and farmers are surprised at higher than expected yields. Yields are highly variable according to the rain & planting date with some ranging from 150 to 200 bushels while others may be 50 bushels.

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