A combination of recent rainfall and a delayed planting season last spring has Virginia growers running to catch up with harvest.
Corn harvested for grain is 7 percent behind normal, peanuts combined is 19 percent behind normal and flue-cured tobacco is 32 percent behind for this time of year.
Tobacco growers in the Commonwealth are concerned they will not be able to complete harvest before frost affects the crop.
In contrast, clear, cool weather in South Carolina has allowed harvest to progress well. In fact, corn harvest is coming to a close.
In North Carolina, recent activities included the harvesting of hay, corn for grain and silage, peanuts, sorghum and tobacco.
For an overview of farm activity in the upper Southeast for the week ending Oct. 5, here are the reports from the USDA/NASS field offices.
North Carolina received scattered showers with some reports of hail in the Western Mountain Region. Precipitation ranged from no rain in Asheville, Jefferson, Lincolnton and Mount Airy to 2.91 inches in Aurora.
Average temperatures ranged from 50 to 69 degrees.
The Mountain Region is still under stress from the drought; while the Piedmont and Coastal Regions are reporting favorable weather conditions for the harvesting of corn, tobacco, and sweet potatoes and the preparation to harvest cotton and peanuts.
There were 5.7 days suitable for field work, compared to 4.9 from the previous week.
Statewide, soil moisture levels are rated at 8 percent very short, 16 percent short, 66 percent adequate and 10 percent surplus.
Activities during the week included the harvesting of hay, corn for grain, corn for silage, peanuts, apples, sweet potatoes, sorghum and tobacco, marketing livestock, and preparing land for small grain plantings.
South Carolina experienced clear and cooler weather with low humidity over much of the state. Crop harvesting progressed well due to the exceptional weather.
The state soil moisture rating was 8 percent very short, 44 percent short, 46 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus. There was an average of 6.3 days that was suitable for field work.
Corn harvesting was coming to a close.
Extraordinary weather had allowed rapid progress in harvesting cotton and applying defoliant. Bolls were rapidly opening, and could use some sunshine. Conditions were 5 percent very poor, 12 percent poor, 46 percent fair, 33 percent good, and 4 percent excellent.
Peanut harvesting continued rapidly due to the week of sunshine. The crop conditions were 1 percent poor, 39 percent fair, 44 percent good, and 16 percent excellent.
Sorghum was progressing and conditions were reported at 22 percent very poor, 41 percent poor, 17 percent fair, and 20 percent good.
Some Group IV soybeans had been harvested in some counties. Rainfall is needed for some fields. Conditions were 12 percent very poor, 23 percent poor, 30 percent fair, 29 percent good, and 6 percent excellent.
Conditions for sweet potatoes were 10 percent very poor, 20 percent poor, 20 percent fair, and 50 percent good.
Tobacco growers are progressing in destroying stalks.
Livestock were a good bit lighter in weight this year due to reduced amount of grazing. Rainfall was needed for some pastures. Conditions were 8 percent very poor, 22 percent poor, 45 percent fair, 24 percent good, and 1 percent excellent. Planting of winter grazings was complete and would benefit from rainfall.
More rain for the Commonwealth this past week. Most of the state received between 1 to 5 inches of rain. Frost was reported in southwestern Virginia. Days suitable for field work were 5.8.
The rain improved late-planted soybeans, pastureland, and hay field conditions. The current rain showers and a slow start back in spring delayed crop progress.
Corn harvested for grain is 7 percent behind normal, peanuts combined is 19 percent behind normal, and flue-cured tobacco is 32 percent behind for this time of year.
Tobacco growers are concerned they will not be able to complete the harvest before frost affects the crop.
The majority of Virginia’s livestock are in good condition. Cattlemen are stockpiling feed and preparing for feeder cattle sales.
Strawberry farmers contended with muddy fields, trying to finish planting before ideal weather conditions pass.
Other farming activities included repairing farm equipment, pricing winter wheat inputs, attending meetings, and preparing for the cotton harvest.
REPORTER COMMENTS BY COUNTY
Comments are based on comments reported by extension agents, farmers, commodity specialists, and other knowledgeable individuals.
CAROLINE (McGann Saphir) “Grain and soybean producers are preparing to start harvesting soybeans and finish planting winter grain and cover crops. Corn harvest is almost complete. Vegetable farmers are harvesting the last of the summer crops and beginning to pick winter squash and pumpkins. Fall greens like kale and collards are also being harvested. Broccoli and cauliflower are nearing the heading stage. Pastures and hayfields have benefited greatly from recent rains. However it is beginning to turn dry again. Regular rainfall is needed to replenish depleted ground water and keep small grains growing well.
ACCOMACK (Jim Belote) “Late rains helped late-planted soybeans greatly. Pods at the very top of plants should fill out pretty good. All corn ready to harvest, but harvest delayed due to high moisture content which can cause quite a bite of deduction in price. Some farmers are not planting wheat due to high cost of inputs. Snap beans are being harvested by machine. Farmers are repairing farm equipment when not in fields and attending an occasional meeting. Tomato harvest is almost complete.”
MIDDLESEX (David Moore) Corn harvest and most farm activities have slowed due to recent rains. Areas received nearly 5 inches of rain at the end of last week. Range of rain 1 to 5 inches. Cloudy weather and humid conditions have also slowed harvest. Land prep continues for small grain plantings. Producers are still pushing the pencil as they try and decide how much wheat to plant. Soybeans are dropping leaves. Early soybean yields will be hurt, but late rains will benefit the double-crops soybeans. Vegetable production is about over. Some cover crop planting is beginning.
MONTGOMERY (Barry Robinson) “The County is still very dry. We received some heavy frost in isolated areas on Friday morning. Good weather for harvesting corn and hay. Fall apple harvest looking good. Fall vegetable crops progressing fairly well, but need rain. Winter grain crops being sown, and need rain as well.
SCOTT (Scott Jerrell) “Cooler weather and rain showers have helped improve morale and the looks of the county considerably. Most vegetable producers are winding up harvest and beef cattle producers are readying for feeder cattle sales.”
TAZEWELL (John Blankenship) “Tazewell County experienced a first frost this week. Pastures are beginning to drop back. Ground water is low.”
BRUNSWICK (Cynthia L. Gregg) “Some light rain and cooler weather this week kept folks from cutting and baling late hay. Some stockpiling of fescue is occurring. Livestock is beginning to improve in body condition. Plans are being made for fall and winter producer meetings.”
DINWIDDIE (Mike Parrish) “The county is expecting to plant less wheat this year due to high fertilizer costs and a lower booking price at this time. Very little to no barley will be planted. Pastures are getting better every day. I hope for a late frost for our tobacco and peanut crops. Also, a lot of our cotton still needs time for defoliation before a frost.”
SUSSEX (Kelvin Wells) “It's been nice and sunny, but some areas got heavy rain. As the fields dry out farmers are busy shredding corn stocks, picking a few peanuts and early maturing soybeans. There are concerns about high fertilizer costs. Some projections show next year's wheat crop could be $200 per acre in fertilizer cost. Wheat is at a breakeven scenario. Input costs are going to determine what crops farmers will grow for next year.”
CHESAPEAKE CITY (Watson Lawrence) “We have had 3-days of rain showers. Soil is most saturated since last winter. Farmers are still able to harvest corn though. Corn has some mold and rot.”
VIRGINIA BEACH (Cal Schiemann) “Corn harvest was slow this week because of wet field conditions resulting from 5 inches of rain late in the previous week and 1 inch or more of rain this week. Strawberry growers had difficulty planting strawberries in very muddy fields. Even with hand planting, workers were often ankle deep in mud. Growers are pressing to complete planting as ideal strawberry planting window has passed.”