High temperatures take toll on Southeast crops

Afternoon showers and thunderstorms helped some Alabama crops last week, but even with the arrival of rainfall high temperatures were taking a toll. Crop conditions continued to vary, with those burning up in areas that have not received much rain, while crops in locations that have been lucky enough to see adequate moisture look fair to good.

In Florida, peanut pegging was 95 percent complete compared with 84 percent last year and a 94 percent five-year average. Soil moisture was mostly adequate in all peanut producing areas.

Isolated showers improved crop conditions in some areas of Georgia, but additional rainfall is badly needed.

Here’s how the USDA/NASS state field offices assessed the overall situation for the week ending Aug. 3.


Although rainfall has been somewhat frequent during recent weeks, the quantity has not been enough to recharge the reservoirs, streams, or water table.

The dry conditions across the state worsened during the past week, with 41.9 percent of Alabama categorized as suffering from severe hydrological drought conditions compared to 35.7 percent during the previous week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released for July 29, 2008.

Thomas D. Atkinson, county executive director in the Madison County FSA office, expressed his concern about the recent weather situation by saying that afternoon showers and thunderstorms have helped, but needed to continue because of the hot weather.

Average temperatures during the past week reached as many as six degrees above normal. Daytime highs ranged from 92 degrees in Union Springs to 100 degrees in Hamilton. This was the second straight week temperatures in Hamilton reached the century mark.

Overnight lows varied from 66 degrees in Belle Mina and Highland Home to 74 degrees in Montgomery.

With the exceptions of Opelika, Alexander City, and Marion Junction, all weather stations reported receiving some rainfall during the past week. Total accumulations ranged from 0.07 inches in Montgomery to 2.48 inches over a three day period in Anniston.

Crop conditions continued to vary, with crops burning up in areas that have not received much rain while crops in locations that have been lucky enough to see adequate rainfall look fair to good.

Leonard Kuykendall, regional Extension agent located in Autauga County, said the lack of rain and hot temperatures during the past week stressed all crops, but those areas that missed getting significant rainfall in the previous week were suffering tremendously.

Donald E. Mann, county executive director in the Jackson County FSA office, stated the corn harvested for grain yields were expected to range from near zero to 150 bushels per acre, with most falling between 60 to 80 bushels per acre.

Leonard Kuykendall noted that the cotton crop in the drier areas around Autauga County was “cut out.”

Producers spent the week preparing their equipment for the corn harvest, and making fungicide and insecticide applications to cotton and peanuts.

Rainfall during the past week helped to improve pasture and hayfield performance in isolated locations.

Henry Dorough, regional Extension agent located in Talladega County, indicated that most hay producers have either already begun harvesting, or were planning a second cutting of hay.

Some producers were advertising and selling surplus hay.

Kenneth Kelley, regional Extension agent located in Mobile County, reported that rainfall in the area had been spotty, leaving pastures to reflect the amount of rainfall received.

Armyworms were reported in Baldwin and Mobile County pastures.

The majority of the state’s livestock remained in mostly good to excellent condition during the past week. Some producers sold part of their herds to help stretch the supply of available pasture grass.


One to two-inch showers covered most areas of the Sunshine state. The central and southern Peninsulas received between two and four inches of rain. Broward and St. Lucie counties each received above four inches of rain, 4.62 and 4.12 inches, respectively.

Major cities averaged highs in the upper 80s and 90s with lows in the 70s. Daytime highs were in the 90s; lows were in the upper 60s and low 70s.

Peanut pegging was 95 percent complete compared with 84 percent last year and a 94 percent five year average.

Peanut condition was rated 16 percent fair, 46 percent good, and 38 percent excellent. Afternoon scattered showers kept the peanut crop progression on schedule. Soil moisture was mostly adequate in all areas.

Vegetable producers were busy preparing land for fall planting. Okra was the only vegetable reported marketed last week.

Pasture and cattle conditions were fair or better throughout the state for the first time in many months. In the Panhandle and northern areas, pasture was in fair to excellent condition. Above average temperatures and frequent showers provided ideal conditions for pasture in Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Washington counties. In the central areas, pasture and cattle conditions were mostly good. In the southwest, pasture condition was mostly good and cattle condition was fair to good.

Statewide, cattle condition was fair to excellent.

Various amounts of rainfall were received in and around citrus-producing areas, from over four inches in Ft. Pierce to less than an inch in Immokalee. Even with less rainfall this past week, canals and lakes were still full and water was plentiful.

Temperatures were warm again this past week, reaching the lower 90s on several days.

Activity in the groves included applications of summer oils, cleaning ditches, fertilizing, mowing, and some hedging. Growers were combining efforts to address canker and psyllid control. Some growers were abandoning or pushing groves severely infected.

Where caretakers spent ample time maintaining groves, oranges were progressing well with varying sizes between golf ball and baseball size. Grapefruit were typically between baseball and softball size. Overall, conditions were good in well-managed groves.


Isolated rains improved crop conditions in some areas, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office. Daily average high temperatures were in the low 90s. Average lows were in the upper 70s most of week.

Soil moisture conditions were rated at 16 percent very short, 40 percent short, 42 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus.

Recent rains continued in helping farmers grow their pastures and hayfields. Dry conditions continue in some parts of the state. Cattlemen have reduced their herds due to a lack of grazing and hay. Fall armyworms are appearing in pastures and hayfields. The high heat and humidity has caused some heat stress on livestock.

Other activities included spraying fungicides and boron on peanuts, spraying cotton for stink bugs and harvesting hay.

County Extension Agents reported an average of 6 days suitable for fieldwork.


District 1 — Northwest

“Area wide showers Thursday evening were a very welcome site. But things have been so dry that Friday was dry enough to continue field work. We are seeing a lot of water levels in ponds drop or dry up.”

“Scattered thunderstorms this week have greatly improved soil moisture.”

District 2 — North Central

“We have had isolated rains, but the dry areas in our county just get drier.”

District 3 — Northeast

“Rain is helping the grass begin to break dormancy, but it's hampering what little hay is available.”

“Showers last week have slightly improved growing conditions. More rain is needed to sustain improvement.”

District 4 — West Central

“Scattered rainfall continues to improve crop conditions.”

“Couple of days with enough scattered showers to prevent much decline in conditions, but little improvement seen.”

District 5 — Central

“Very hot and humid! A few scattered showers. Need more rain badly.”

“Dry conditions continue. Heavy rain occurred on Friday in southern part of the county. Heat is taking its toll in addition to lack of rain. Cattlemen reducing their herds due to the lack of grazing and hay. Fall armyworms are appearing in pastures and hay fields. Pigweed battle continues.”

“Recent spotty rains have helped farmers grow their pastures and hayfields. Fall armyworms have become a concern with damage occurring in some fields throughout the county. High heat and humidity causing some heat stress on livestock.

District 6 — East Central

“Conditions are about the same. Areas that have received scattered showers have significantly improved. Showers still not widespread enough to improve conditions drastically.”

“Seeing some corn earworms and fall armyworms on peanuts, but not many. Big news is the discovery of what most certainly appears to be tropical spiderwort in a cotton field, the first I've documented. Pigweed resistance is widespread but, in most cases, it's either ALS or glyphosate, but not both. Very hard to determine resistance versus bad application or spraying after weeds were too big. However, I've seen enough to know (and my growers agree) we have our work cut out for us from here on. A quart of glyphosate alone is history in all but a few fields. Boll retention is good, but plants are stunted and stink bugs are plentiful. Many dry land peanut fields will never lap this year, but we had a lot of fields that made 3,000 pounds without lapping last year. After the last two years, I won't say it's over until late August. We have had these same dry conditions and still made crops. The next 2-3 weeks will tell the tale because this struggling cotton will be cutting out without rain and peanuts will be through making pods that can mature.”

District 7 — Southwest

“Scattered thunder showers continue to provide rain for 85 percent of the county. Corn harvest began this week.”

“Even with frequent rains, crops stressed within 3 days due to extreme heat during heavy reproduction stages of all crops.”

“We still have some small areas that have been missed by the recent rains.”

District 8 — South Central

“Getting frequent rainfall. Insects showing up in cotton and peanuts. Harvesting hay between showers. Spraying fungicides and boron on peanuts. Tobacco harvest in full swing. Spraying cotton for stink bugs.”

“The crops have continued to get spotty rain showers. Most areas have got rain on the crops. The crops for the most part look good at this reporting period.

District 9 — Southeast

Much better rainfall this week. However, a lot of cotton topping out at less than knee high. Very few peanuts have lapped the middles. Soybeans suffering too.”

“Good rainfall in many areas, but there continues to be some dry spots in the county.”

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