Kentucky, Tennessee corn crops behind schedule

Summer weather returned to Kentucky and Tennessee this past week as hazy, hot, humid conditions prevailed. In Kentucky the corn crop continued to run behind schedule, while soybeans were significantly behind the average. Tennessee’s soybean crop was beginning to stress, with over half the crop blooming and just under a third setting pods.

Here’s how the state USDA/NASS field offices assessed the situation for the week ending July 20.


The traditional Kentucky summer of hazy, hot, and humid conditions returned last week with little to no rainfall. At this point all the crops need rain for continued good crop development.

Topsoil moisture was rated as 12 percent very short, 42 percent short, 44 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture was rated 11 percent very short, 36 percent short, 51 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus. There were 6.3 days suitable for fieldwork.

The majority of farm work this week included cutting hay, working with their tobacco, and spraying crops for weeds and insects.

As of Sunday, July 20, the tobacco crop condition was reported as 5 percent poor, 20 percent fair, 53 percent good, and 22 percent excellent. About 28 percent of tobacco plants were under 24 inches tall, with 36 percent between 24-36 inches in height, and 36 percent over 36 inches. Fourteen percent of the burley tobacco was blooming or beyond, and five percent has been topped. Forty-eight percent of the dark tobacco was blooming or beyond, and 30 percent has been topped. Farmers were spraying and topping their tobacco this past week. The tobacco crop looks good overall with some reports of bud and horn worms and blank shank.

The corn condition remained steady with 1 percent rated very poor, 3 percent poor, 13 percent fair, 48 percent good, and 35 percent excellent. Sixty-eight percent of the corn has silked or was silking as of Sunday, July 20, well behind both last year’s 87 percent and the five-year average of 82 percent. Twenty-six percent of the corn was in milk stage or beyond, compared to 43 percent last year and the five-year average of 44 percent. Ten percent of the corn was in dough stage or beyond, compared to last year’s 14 percent and the five-year average of 15 percent.

As of Sunday, July 20, 29 percent of the soybeans were blooming, significantly behind last year’s 54 percent and the five-year average of 48 percent. Soybean condition improved slightly from last week with 1 percent rated very poor, 6 percent poor, 21 percent fair, 47 percent good, and 25 percent excellent.

Throughout Kentucky pastures and hay crops continue to look good, although they are in need of rain. Pasture condition was rated 3 percent very poor, 15 percent poor, 33 percent fair, 41 percent good, and 8 percent excellent. Hay in the field was rated as 3 percent very poor, 10 percent poor, 32 percent fair, 46 percent good, and 9 percent excellent.


The plentiful rainfall from two weeks ago did not last, as seasonably dry, hot weather returned last week. Farmers across the state made good progress with field activities, but the dry weather is beginning to adversely impact the condition of crops.

Just over a quarter of the corn crop has reached the dough stage, almost a week behind normal.

Cotton remained in mostly good condition with nearly half of the crop setting bolls.

Soybeans are beginning to stress, but the crop still remains in mostly good-to-fair condition. Over half of the crop was blooming with just under a third setting pods.

Nearly a quarter of the state's tobacco has been topped and was rated in mostly good-to-fair condition. Some farmers were also able to make progress on their second cuttings of hay.

There were six days considered suitable for fieldwork last week. As of Friday, topsoil moisture levels were rated 13 percent very short, 45 percent short, and 42 percent adequate. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 20 percent very short, 39 percent short, and 41 percent adequate.

Temperatures across Tennessee last week averaged about 1 degree below normal and precipitation averaged well below normal.


"Corn is in full tassel and we are getting a few small showers to help. Soybean planting is done. Cattle producers are spraying cattle or fly tagging them to control flies." Steve Glass, Decatur County

"This past weekend brought much needed moisture with reports of 1.5 to 2.5 inches county wide. Some corn suffered too much heat and dry weather and will affect yields negatively. Soybeans have started blooming after receiving rain. Producers were able to start making post-emerge herbicide applications to double-crop soybeans. Additional rainfall will be needed soon to keep crops growing and to protect yields." Jeff Lannom, Weakley County

"Nearly 5 inches of rainfall blanketed the county last week, which drastically improved crop conditions. The rain did, however, bring some storms which caused some of our dark tobacco to be blown over, twisted, and damaged. Pastures are slowly looking better and all cultivated crops have greatly improved." Ronnie Barron, Cheatham County

"Giles County is getting in desperate need for moisture. Pastures are drying up fast. Corn is at critical time for water. Late planted beans have had very little moisture. Some areas of the county received rain last week where most did not." Kevin Rose, Giles County

"Continued hot and dry weather is taking its toll! Temperatures continue to hit the 90 plus mark, with little or no rain activity. Pastures are quickly running thin and beginning to brown. Producers are having to begin feeding hay to supplement declining pastures. Very little to no hay is being produced for second harvest, several fields being grazed rather than cut." Ed Burns, Franklin County

"Most of the area received much needed rain (1.5 to 2.25 inches) early in the week. All crops responded quite favorably. However, crops need more moisture by the end of the week. Late planted soybeans behind wheat are up to a good stand and are making good growth. The situation with livestock water supplies has improved with the rains of the past two weeks. Producers are harvesting a short second cutting of hay with hay supplies better than this time last year." Bob Sliger, Monroe County

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