The drought is far from over, but recent rainfall provided at least a temporary reprieve for many crops in the Southeast.
According to state NASS field offices, most areas received some rainfall during the week ended July 8. That’s the good news
The bad news is that some missed the moisture and growers watched crop and forage conditions continue to deteriorate.
Here’s a look at the state-by-state situation as reported by the NASS field offices.
With a second week of rainfall received, the U.S. Drought Monitor indicated a slight improvement in the drought conditions being experienced this crop season.
The area in Alabama reported as suffering from extreme or exceptional drought conditions decreased 2.3 percent from 72.8 percent the previous week to 70.5 percent this past week.
Only 41.9 percent of Alabama land was classified as experiencing exceptional drought compared to 43.7 percent last week and none one year ago.
All reporting weather stations received precipitation during the past week. Totals accumulated varied tremendously even across districts.
Mobile totaled the most rainfall at 6.65 inches over a 5-day period, while Bay Minette only received 0.34 inches in a 3-day period. Areas around Troy and Livingston also received over 5 inches of rain.
Daytime highs ranged from 91 degrees near Bridgeport and Guntersville to 100 degrees around Montgomery and Livingston. Over night lows varied from 62 degrees in Talladega and Opelika to 71 degrees at Dothan.
Even though most of the state received some rain during the past week, most of the corn crop remained in very poor to poor condition. Many of the stands are in too bad of shape to recover.
However, Leonard Kuykendall, Autauga County Extension agent, noted there are some fields of corn that started to fill out ears with the help of the moisture received.
Soybean farmers welcomed the rain. The soybean crop was still reported in very poor or poor condition, but with continued rainfall was expected to begin improving.
The majority of Alabama’s cotton crop showed signs of improvement, but remained in mostly very poor or poor condition. Most areas received rains that were expected to benefit the crop.
However, Kuykendall mentioned that some of the older cotton stands in Autauga County had plants that had started blooming out of the top.
Thomas D. Atkinson in the Madison County FSA office noted that some producers in the county had cotton stands that were less than 10 inches tall and had begun blooming out the top.
Some improvement was seen in the state’s peanut crop during the past week, as reporters indicated 54 percent of fields were in very poor or poor condition compared to 64 percent last week. Producers across the peanut belt received some much needed moisture during the past week.
Insect pressure from cornstalk borers increased in many of the dry, sandy fields, but growers expected the number of pests to decrease with more rainfall.
Most farmers were busy applying scheduled fungicide and herbicide sprays as more weeds were seen in peanut fields after the recent rainfall.
Alabama hay fields and pastures are expected to improve with the past week’s rainfall.
Range and pasture conditions showed improvements as 80 percent were reported as very poor or poor compared to 86 percent a week ago. Slight improvements were seen in livestock conditions, as pastures started to green up and a more nutritious food source became available.
Scattered rains during the week of July 2-8 raised soil moisture ratings in most areas. Rainfall amounts ranged from a quarter inch or less in Alachua, Bronson, Live Oak, and Monticello, to over five inches in Brooksville, Daytona Beach, and Sebring. Most stations reported an inch or more of rain for the week.
Temperatures at most of the major stations were normal. Daytime highs were in the 80s and 90s while nighttime lows were in the 60s and 70s.
The Florida Department of Agriculture’s Division of Forestry reported a total of 95 active wildfires on 98,912 acres as of July 8, 2007.
Recent rainfall helped cotton, peanut, and hay growth in most Panhandle and northern Peninsula areas.
In Jackson County, rain for the week ranged from two tenths to over 3 inches with 25 to 30 percent of the field crop area still under severe drought conditions.
The rainfall increased peanut condition with ratings improving to 5 percent very poor, 20 percent poor, 35 percent fair, 20 percent good and 20 percent excellent. The recent rains greened hay fields, but more rain is needed to ensure adequate growth.
Dry conditions caused a substantial nut drop from pecan trees in Jefferson County.
In Washington County, most field crop producers applied fertilizer to stimulate production and fight weed problems since herbicides were less effective on drought-stressed plants.
The recent rains improved soil moisture with most ratings adequate.
In Hendry County, nearly daily rains raised water levels in ponds and canals. Marion and Hernando counties reported surplus soil moisture supplies. The scattered nature of the recent rain left some skipped areas, especially in the Panhandle and Big Bend area, with soil moisture rated very short to short.
In Jefferson County, the watermelon harvest neared the end with some poor yields realized by growers. Tomato picking is nearly finished in the Quincy area. Okra harvesting continued in Dade County.
Scattered showers throughout the week benefited farmers, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office.
Average highs were in the 80s most of the week. Average lows were in the 60s and lower 70s. There were scattered showers throughout the week. Still more rain will be needed to reduce the drought conditions and replenish water supplies.
Topsoil moisture conditions were rated at 23 percent very short, 36 percent short, 40 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus.
Rains have helped crop conditions to at least remain stable and in many cases improve. Pastures and hayfields showed slight improvement, but there continued to be a grazing shortage. Livestock farmers were marketing cattle and weaning calves earlier than normal.
Late planted cotton and peanuts looked good.
Dryland corn was not faring well, but irrigated corn was in good condition. Spider mites were reported on tomatoes.
Soybean planting continued.
Other activities included cutting hay, feeding hay to cattle, topping and suckering tobacco, applying herbicides and fungicides to peanuts, fertilizing millet and cotton, and irrigating corn and tobacco.
County Extension agents reported an average of 6 days suitable for fieldwork.
For the second consecutive week, scattered rain showers across the state brought some short-term relief to continuing hot, dry conditions, but a good soaking rain is still needed.
The showers and thunderstorms helped improve the overall condition of most row crops, but pastures and hay fields remained in the very poor-to-poor category. Development of the cotton crop continued at a rapid pace, as nearly all of the acreage has entered the squaring stage.
Corn and soybean development also continues to be slightly ahead of the normal pace.
With virtually all of the state's tobacco acreage transplanted, three-fourths of the acreage was rated in mostly fair-to-good condition.
Cattle were rated in mostly fair-to-good condition, despite pastures deteriorating to the point where a few producers have chosen to reduce their herds. Others were busy feeding hay and hauling water.
Tomato harvest is in full swing in west Tennessee. Farmers also continued applying herbicides to soybeans and fungicides to corn.
End-of-the-week rains did little to hamper farming activities as 6 days were considered suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture levels were rated 34 percent very short, 41 percent short, and 25 percent adequate.
Subsoil moisture levels were rated 47 percent very short, 37 percent short, and 16 percent adequate.
Temperatures across the state last week averaged normal to slightly above normal, while rainfall continued below normal.
County Agent Comments:
"All of Dyer County received rainfall this past Friday and Saturday in amounts of 1.5 to 2 inches in most areas. This has given crops new life and some temporary relief from drought. Should help stabilize or perhaps increase corn yields to some degree. Cotton growth has jumped tremendously with rainfall received. Soybeans progressing better since rain. However, we continue to need more rainfall into July and August." Tim Campbell, Dyer County
"Spotted showers have helped some of the tobacco growers. However, many have been irrigating for nearly a month. Hay and pastures continue to decline. Some beef producers are selling off some of their older cows and reducing herd size. Field crops will probably have drastic yield reductions as compared to last year." Ronnie Barron, Cheatham County
"Scattered showers have greened up some pastures but there is little grass growth. Some areas still have not received any rain in many weeks. Our winter supply of hay is critically low. The scattered rains have helped slow the rate of decline in crops but additional rains are a must to avoid further yield reductions." Richard Groce, Maury County
"The heat (consistently the 90s) and the drought continue to impact row crops and forages. Cattle producers are increasingly feeding hay to offset poor pastures. Hay is short and the hopes of a second cutting diminish with each rainless day. Some corn fields in the 'bottoms' are amazingly holding on." John Wilson, Marion County
"The only moisture received over the area during the week was some very widely scattered showers and they were mostly wind with brief downpours. With the elevation in daytime temperatures all crops, including row crops, hay and pastures have deteriorated rapidly. Producers are being forced to supplement lack of pasture with hay that was intended for winter feed or they are having to liquidate portions of their herds. Available water for livestock is also causing problems for a growing number of producers." Bob Sliger, Monroe County
Sporadic thunderstorms across South Carolina this past week helped crops continue to grow and develop in those places that received moisture.
Overall, fewer areas of the state saw any precipitation this week when compared to the preceding week. Likewise, crop conditions differed from region to region, and even within the same county depending on whether rain had fallen there recently or not.
Soils for the week were rated at 20 percent very short, 39 percent short, and 41 percent adequate. Days suitable for fieldwork averaged 6.2, the same as last week.
Corn conditions have improved where there was rain. Most fields were in need of additional moisture. Dry areas were experiencing declining yield expectations. The crop’s condition was 1 percent very poor, 16 percent poor, 40 percent fair, 37 percent good, and 6 percent excellent.
In general, cotton wasn’t looking too bad, and could make a good crop. Conditions were 1 percent very poor, 8 percent poor, 36 percent fair, 50 percent good, and 5 percent excellent.
Coastal peanut growers were seeing a fair amount of spotted wilt.
The soybean crop was rated at 11 percent poor, 41 percent fair, 46 percent good, and 2 percent excellent.
Tobacco was looking much better. The crop was filling out, and beginning to lap the rows in some fields. Most farmers were getting ready to begin harvest soon. Conditions were 4 percent poor, 36 percent fair, 49 percent good, and 11 percent excellent.
Oat and winter wheat harvests were just about finished. Yields were very low this year.
The livestock condition was fair to good. Pasture conditions did not change a great deal during the week.
Harvesting of several vegetable crops was entering the final stages.
Peach harvest was still very disappointing. The crop remained in mostly very poor condition. Apple conditions were 40 percent very poor, 35 percent poor, and 25 percent fair.
There were 6.3 days suitable for field work compared to 5.8 from the previous week. Statewide soil moisture levels are rated at 29 percent very short, 42 percent short, 29 percent adequate, and zero percent surplus.
Activities during the week included the finishing of planting of sorghum, soybeans, and sweet potatoes, while small grains, peaches, hay, and Irish potatoes continued to be harvested.
Scattered showers stretched across the state again this past week as soil moisture conditions continue to deteriorate.
Days suitable for work were 6.6. Topsoil moisture was generally very short. Pastures and hayfields are still showing signs of stress. As a result, some farmers are continuing to reduce herd and flock sizes. Concern is also developing as livestock producers begin to feed winter hay supplies.
Corn in many areas is showing stress and the need for rainfall is critical as pollination approaches.
Double-cropped soybean planting has halted in many areas due to a lack of soil moisture.
Most tobacco producers are beginning their second phase of irrigation and topping is slowly occurring because of the dry conditions.
Peanuts and cotton are reaching the reproductive stage and are in need of water.
Potato harvesting has started and yields are reported as good. Vegetable crops are beginning to show signs of stress and are being irrigated in some areas as tomatoes begin to ripen.
Other activities this past week included herbicide applications, equipment repair, and midsummer deworming.