Kentucky, Tennessee wheat yields very good

Last week’s weather in Kentucky and Tennessee was on the dry side, but even though it brought back reminders of 2007, it did allow for rapid progress with the wheat harvest.

And what a wheat harvest it’s turning out to be with growers in Kentucky threatening a record yield, while their counterparts in Tennessee are also seeing very good yields.

Here’s a look at the overall situation in the two states as reported by the USDA/NASS field offices.


Concerns are growing about adequate rainfall, especially in the eastern part of the state. Producers are painfully aware of the similar scenario from 2007. Weekly precipitation for the state was slightly below normal for only the second time in the past month and averaged 0.49 inches below normal.

Temperatures statewide averaged 69 degrees, 5 degrees below normal, which helped moderate the effects of the rainfall shortage. Topsoil moisture was rated as 6 percent very short, 26 percent short, 64 percent adequate, and 4 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture was rated 6 percent very short, 19 percent short, 71 percent adequate, and 4 percent surplus. There were 5.8 days suitable for fieldwork.

Burley setting was 93 percent complete as of Sunday, June 22, compared with 97 percent for last year and the five-year average of 92 percent. Ninety-four percent of the dark tobacco had been set. Last year 99 percent had been set and the five-year average was 95 percent. About 74 percent of tobacco plants were under 12 inches high, with 22 percent 12-24 inches in height, and 4 percent were over 24 inches. The tobacco crop condition was reported as 3 percent poor, 18 percent fair, 63 percent good, and 16 percent excellent.

Corn condition was rated 2 percent poor, 11 percent fair, 56 percent good, and 31 percent excellent. Two percent of the corn has tasseled, or is tasseling, compared to last year’s 19 percent and the five-year average of 15 percent. There were some reports of corn borer activity, but on average very few reports about insect or disease damage.

As of Sunday, June 22, 95 percent of the single-crop soybeans had been planted, behind the 99 percent reported last year but ahead of the five-year average of 92 percent. Twenty-seven percent of double-crop soybeans have been planted compared to 54 percent last year and the five-year average of 37 percent. All beans planted was 82 percent, behind last year’s 92 percent but equal to the five-year average.

Some concern was expressed about the ability of planters to get through both the hard soil crust and the crop residue left by the wheat harvest.

Seventy-four percent of the soybeans have emerged which was behind last year’s 89 percent and the five-year average of 75 percent. Soybean condition was rated 1 percent very poor, 6 percent poor, 20 percent fair, 54 percent good, and 19 percent excellent. The average height of emerged soybeans was 6 inches, behind both last year’s 7 inches and the five-year average of 7 inches.

Wheat harvest has begun in earnest with 38 percent of the crop harvested, compared with 57 percent a year ago and the five-year average of 43 percent. Early reports remain extremely positive with yields approaching state record levels. Barley harvest was 91 percent complete compared with 99 percent last year and the five-year average of 95 percent.

About 80 percent of the sorghum acres had been planted as of Sunday, June 22 compared with 98 percent a year ago and the five-year average of 91 percent.

About 37 percent of second alfalfa cutting has been completed. The recent dry spell and the shortage of forage in 2007 has farmers cutting hay to replenish supplies exhausted during the dry summer of 2007 and past winter. Pasture condition was rated 2 percent very poor, 8 percent poor, 29 percent fair, 53 percent good, and 8 percent excellent.


Warm, dry conditions across Tennessee last week aided farmers in making excellent progress with wheat harvest and soybean planting. Wheat harvest advanced rapidly with about two-thirds of the total acreage combined by week's end.

Soybean producers seeded an additional 10 percent of the acreage last week and are on pace with the 5-year average.

The warm temperatures have also benefitted the development of the cotton crop, although the crop is still about two weeks behind normal.

A few corn fields have started to suffer due to lack of rain. A small percentage of the acreage has reached the silking stage with development about a week behind normal; the crop was rated in mostly good-to-excellent condition.

Virtually all of the state's tobacco has been transplanted and most of the state's hay crop has been cut for the first-time.

There were 6 days considered suitable for fieldwork last week.

As of Friday, June 20, topsoil moisture levels were rated 9 percent very short, 29 percent short, 60 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 8 percent very short, 27 percent short, 63 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus.

Temperatures across the state last week averaged 2 to 5 degrees below normal with precipitation averaging below normal as well.


"We have had some very good wheat yields and will average above the state average of 60 bushels. Some fields are reaching above 100 bushel wheat, with most overall farm yields in the 70 to 80 bushel range. Farmers took advantage of the good weather conditions, as they needed it to start catching up. Farmers had soybean drills following right behind combines in wheat fields. We got some rain in different parts of the county Thursday and Friday but not enough to slow down progress. Cotton was in the 5th to 6th node stage by the end of the week and farmers were finishing up herbicide applications and focusing on insecticide applications for spider mites and early plant bugs." James Griffin, Lauderdale County

"Very mild temperatures and dry conditions dominated the week making for excellent wheat harvest. However, most producers would welcome rain for the corn. Wheat harvest was in full swing this week, excellent weather has allowed producers to harvest about 50 percent of the crop. Excellent yield reported. A record number of acres, coupled with record high yields and a crop that is about 40 percent lodged have combines moving at a slower pace than normal. Normally harvest is finishing up around June 25. Grain quality is excellent. About 60 percent of the corn crop is showing emerging tassels. A good rain would insure excellent pollination of one of the best looking crops producers have seen in a while. A number of producers are readying to apply fungicide to top yielding fields. The soybean crop is in excellent condition, a few fields have had germination problems and reduced stands About 75 percent of the crop is planted and a good rain would help get late beans off to a good start. Most producers reporting soil moisture adequate for planting, but report soils drying fast after wheat is removed. The cotton crop made excellent progress with hot temperatures and good moisture from the previous week, cool nights have slowed growth a bit but the crop is in excellent condition. Most hay producers are reporting being finished with the first cutting and a few are gearing up to begin harvesting the second cutting." Ed Burns, Franklin County

"Cool season hay harvesting is almost complete. Hay 'quality' is down from last spring. Hay 'quantity' is about double last spring’s production. Many weeds are seen in hay and pasture, especially Canadian thistle. Lots of hay was wet in windrows and had to be fluffed 2 or 3 times per day before baling." John J. Goddard, Loudon County

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