Kentucky, Tennessee crops under drought-stress

Dry, hot weather has returned to the Kentucky, Tennessee region with row crops and forages beginning to suffer.

In Kentucky a few areas in the western part of the state received showers, but for the most part, crops have started to show signs of stress. Some corn fields have been cut for silage before quality had a chance to decline. The condition of soybeans also deteriorated.

A high pressure system remained in place over Middle and East Tennessee resulting in dry weather and seasonably hot temperatures. Wheat beans are in critical need of rainfall to boost yield potential.

Here’s how the state USDA/NASS field offices reported the situation for the week ending Aug. 24.


It is dry! That was the number one comment made by most reporters this week. A few fortunate spots in the west benefited from a shower or two. Above average temperatures returned as well. Crops have started to show signs of stress.

Topsoil moisture was rated as 44 percent very short, 40 percent short, and 16 percent adequate. Subsoil moisture was rated 32 percent very short, 43 percent short, and 25 percent adequate. There were 6.5 days suitable for fieldwork.

Most of the farm work consisted of topping, spraying, cutting, and housing tobacco, cutting hay, watering cattle, and other farm work.

As of Sunday, Aug. 24, set tobacco condition was rated 2 percent very poor, 10 percent poor, 27 percent fair, 44 percent good, and 17 percent excellent. Thirty percent of the dark tobacco has been cut, behind the 39 percent cut last year and on par with the five year average of 29 percent. Burley cut was at 28 percent. In 2007 it was 33 percent with an average of 34 percent. There is concern that the housed tobacco may dry up instead of curing.

Some corn fields have been cut for silage before the quality had a chance to decline. However, only 12 percent of the corn crop has matured. It was 48 percent last year with an average of 34 percent. Fifty-four percent was in the dent stage, compared to 80 percent a year ago and 76 percent for the five year average. About 82 percent of the corn crop was at the dough stage or beyond. It was 94 percent in 2007 and the five year average was 95 percent. Fields were rated 1 percent very poor, 9 percent poor, 30 percent fair, 43 percent good, and 17 percent excellent.

Soybean crop condition declined this week as well. Soybeans were rated 2 percent very poor, 10 percent poor, 34 percent fair, 40 percent good, and 14 percent excellent. Additional rain would go a long way to improve pod fill. Percent of soybeans that have bloomed was at 93 percent. Last year it was 97 percent with 94 percent for the average. Seventy-four percent of soybeans have set pods, behind the 84 percent and in 2007 and the average of 78 percent.

Pastures and hay fields were also stressed over the last few days. Hay was cut, but field conditions were rated 11 percent very poor, 21 percent poor, 39 percent fair, 27 percent good, and 2 percent excellent. Pastures fared worse and were rated 14 percent very poor, 26 percent poor, 37 percent fair, 22 percent good, and 1 percent excellent.


A high pressure system remained in place over Middle and East Tennessee for much of the week resulting in dry weather and seasonably hot temperatures. Over fifty percent of the state's pastures remained in very poor-to-poor condition.

Wheat-beans are also in critical need of rain to boost yield potential. The corn crop moved closer to harvest with a fifth of the acreage now mature. Tobacco producers also made good progress last week, as topping and sucker control continued. Tobacco harvest is in its second week.

With six days suitable for fieldwork, other activities across the state included silage harvesting and fungicide applications.

As of Friday, topsoil moisture levels were rated 40 percent very short, 37 percent short, and 23 percent adequate. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 41 percent very short, 36 percent short, and 23 percent adequate.

Rainfall remained near normal across West Tennessee with below average rainfall totals across the Middle and Eastern parts of the state. Temperatures averaged two to four degrees above average for Middle and East Tennessee and near average in the West.


"Shelby County has finally received some much needed rain in the last two weeks, it should help pastures immensely." Becky Muller, Shelby County

"Showers on Thursday brought some relief to parts of the county with two-tenths to a half inch of rainfall reported. Unfortunately, some areas received no precipitation. Producers are applying fungicides to double-crop soybeans that have some yield potential. There is very light insect pressure in soybeans at this time. Producers are also getting combines and trucks prepared for the upcoming corn harvest. A good, general soaking rain is badly needed." Jeff Lannom, Weakley County

"Six-tenths of an inch of rain yesterday helped green things back up, but much more is needed." Rick Ritter, Perry County

"Recent rains have helped late planted soybeans. Some producers are getting second cuttings of hay, primarily johnsongrass." Kevin Rose, Giles County

"Dry! Dry! Dry! Grass is drying up and hay cutting is limited to johnsongrass and short fescue. Several people watering cattle, just not as many as last year so far." Scott Chadwell, Putnum County

"Double-crop soybeans are really suffering from lack of moisture. We received less than an inch of rain over most of the county in June, had a fair amount in July and zero so far in August. Some have been feeding hay for six weeks. Pastures are drying up quickly. Second cutting of hay is very unlikely unless rain is received soon." Mannie Bedwell, Hamblen County

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