Southeast crop conditions vary widely

Some much needed rainfall fell across the Southeast last week, but in some cases it was too much of a good thing. For instance, parts of Alabama received from 4 to 10 inches of rain with accompanying high winds.

After the storms producers were trying to determine just how much damage was done to the area’s wheat crop.

Planting and crop emergence continued across the area. For a rundown on the situation for the week ending June 1 here are the reports from the various state USDA/NASS offices.


A storm system brought large quantities of rainfall to several areas in the northern part of Alabama during the past week, but left most of the south bone dry. Extreme hydrological drought conditions continued to recede, as only 4.1 percent of the state was categorized in this condition, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released for May 27, 2008.

Temperatures for the past week were as many as six degrees above normal. Daytime highs ranged from 87 degrees in Cullman and Sand Mountain to 94 degrees in Brewton.

Overnight lows varied between 58 degrees in Opelika to 68 degrees in Bay Minette.

Precipitation totals differed drastically across the state. Hamilton, in northwest Alabama, received 5 inches of rain during the past week while weather stations in other regions remained dry or accumulated just a trace of moisture.

Alabama’s wheat crop suffered some damage in certain areas of the state during the past week. Doyle Dutton, county executive director in the Lawrence County FSA office, indicated strong storms brought high winds and 4 to 10 inches of rain. Wheat stands in many fields were blown down, but producers were not certain about how severe the overall damage was.

Leonard Kuykendall, regional Extension agent located in Autauga County, stated that winter wheat harvest in the area was progressing slowly because the crop was still greener than normal for this time of year. Growers who have harvested their wheat crop around the Autauga County area have seen good yields.

Doyle Barnes, county executive director in the Covington County FSA office, added that small grain harvest was under way with good yields being reported.

Statewide, this year’s corn crop was reported in mostly good to excellent condition during the past week. However, the corn in some areas was at a critical point, and showed the need for some rainfall. James D. Jones, Jr., county Extension coordinator for Henry County, mentioned the area was desperate for rain, and that corn yields had already been affected by a lack of available soil moisture.

Shane Seay, county executive director in the Limestone County FSA office, noted that cooler than normal temperatures to date have kept cotton growth and stand establishment lagging behind that of recent years.

Producers in the Autauga County area were busy side-dressing cotton with nitrogen, and making herbicide and insecticide applications to some fields. Jones also indicated emergence in the cotton and peanut crops around Henry County was slow. Some of the planted acreage was up, and all fields needed a good rain.

Harvest of early peach varieties was underway. This year’s crop was sizing well and had excellent flavor. Growers were increasing the number of early fruit harvested.

Bobby Boozer, research horticulturist at the Chilton Research and Extension Center, reported that some varieties have shown considerable split-pit due to the cultivar type and excessive thinning from the freeze in late March. Plum curculio larvae that entered the soil in late April have started emerging as adults. The majority of the new population has been male, but females were expected to emerge soon. Producers anticipated egg lay to begin during the week of June 9.

Insect pressure from leaf-footed bugs was seen in abundance in peaches, blackberries, and blueberries. Two-spotted spider mites were seen in blueberries. Disease pressure from brown rot and rhizopus rot was beginning to show. Producers were encouraged to thin tree middles and remove water sprouts to help control the spread of these diseases.

Pasture conditions deteriorated slightly during the past week, as hot, dry weather conditions plagued the southern areas of the state. Producers continued their haying operations, although progress was somewhat slow in a few northern counties because of rainfall. The state’s livestock remained in mostly good to excellent condition.


High temperatures for the week ending June 1 were in the upper 80s to upper 90s, with Umatilla reaching over 100 degrees last week. Throughout the state, lows ranged from the mid 50s to 70s. Major cities averaged highs in the 80s and low 90s; lows were in the 60s and 70s. Most counties reported less than 1 inch of rain, with a majority reporting little to no rainfall.

However, centrally located Hillsborough, Hernando, and St. Johns counties reported 0.45, 0.62, and 0.66 inches, respectively.

Broward and Collier counties in the southern Peninsula reported 1.02 and 2.68 inches, respectively.

Peanut planting was 90 percent completed, compared to 64 percent last year. In Santa Rosa County, wheat harvesting continued with yields reported down from last year. Wind damage affected about 5 percent of Santa Rosa’s wheat acreage.

Wheat and oat harvest was under way in Jackson County with good yields. Indian River County welcomed rain almost every day.

Most other counties reported drought conditions. Dry soil delayed some planting in Washington and Jackson counties. Hay was made where possible, but dry conditions continued to leave hay in short supply in Desoto and Pasco counties.

Soil moisture levels were reported very short in the Big Bend and central Peninsula. The Panhandle and southern Peninsula reported short soil moisture.

Vegetable harvest was almost finished in Hendry County. Tomato harvesting was expected to begin soon in Gadsden County with the crop reported as excellent. Washington County reported harvesting in full swing. However; non-irrigated crops showed stress from drought. Producers marketed snap beans, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, peppers, radishes, and tomatoes during the week.

Citrus producing areas returned to the hot and dry weather pattern, except for the lower interior area. Temperatures ranged from the low 60s to the mid to upper 90s in all citrus areas.

Rainfall was sparse, except in the lower interior area, where the Immokalee station reported over two and a half inches of rain. Thunderstorms were reported in many areas as afternoon temperatures reached the upper 90s, but rainfall was limited.

With the extensive use of irrigation, most trees looked good with heavy foliage and healthy new fruit. Hedging and topping continued into the latter part of the citrus season. Other production activities included irrigating, spraying, mowing, and brush removal.

Growers were combating greening by removing trees and attempting to control the psyllids with pesticides.

Valencia harvest dropped below the six million box weekly amount as hot temperatures slowed harvest.

Availability of fruit remaining to be harvested decreased as some fruit softness resulted from the dry and hot weather. Some processing plants were planning to run Valencia oranges into the second week of July.

Grapefruit utilization declined rapidly with small amounts continuing to be processed. Honey tangerine harvest neared completion with packing houses closing for the season.


Isolated showers throughout the state allowed some relief to farmers, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office. Daily average high temperatures fluctuated between the high 80s and low 90s. Average lows were in the 60s most of week.

Soil moisture conditions were rated at 13 percent very short, 40 percent short, 43 percent adequate, and 4 percent surplus.

The scattered showers have resulted in a slight improvement to soil moisture. Additional rain is needed for the areas that have showed drought stress. Pasture and hayfield conditions continue to improve. Wheat continued to mature and the harvest gathered intensity. The oat harvest started with early yields being reported as good. The blueberry crops look good.

Other activities included side-dressing nitrogen and spraying tobacco.


District 2 — North Central

“Widely scattered showers this week did little to improve soil moisture, many hay fields cut this week.”

District 3 — Northeast

“Very widely scattered and spotty showers have given some areas about 0.1 inch of rain. It seems showers keep missing the county.”

District 4 — West Central

“Cotton and soybean replants. Cool temperatures are slowing down cotton development. Getting dry.”

District 5 — Central

“More rain this week. Small grains damaged to some extent from hail last week. Pasture and hayfield conditions continue to improve. We have gotten around 0.12 of an inch of rain over the last seven days. Planting is going well. Some areas are starting to show drought stress. Some areas getting spotty rains.”

District 6 — East Central

“Still getting timely showers to keep planting and getting good stands. Wheat is very close to harvest, should be cutting quite a bit by middle of next week. Yield potential is good even though weather laid wheat down in many places and we may loose 10-15percent in a few fields. Oats have been harvested with good yields. Will have some late cotton and peanuts behind wheat but mostly soybeans.”

District 7 — Southwest

“Northern half of the county received from 0.5 to 1.5 inches of rainfall Thursday p.m.”

District 8 — South Central

“Side-dressing nitrogen and spraying for budworms in tobacco. Grasshoppers doing a fair amount of damage. Wrapping up planting peanuts and replanting some cotton fields. Cutworms and grasshoppers reducing stands of cotton. Hay fields, corn and tobacco needs rainfall. Some replanting of peanuts. Dry weather getting critical for germination of late planted crops. Harvesting wheat and wheat straw. Blueberry crop looks good. Drier conditions prevail and cause more crop stress.”

District 9 — Southeast

“We need some rain!”


Wet weather last week hindered producers from progressing with agricultural activities, especially planting. However, the rain has been beneficial for emerging crops, hay fields and pastures.

Roughly 80 percent of cattle were rated in good-to-excellent condition with a few farmers treating for flies. Almost two-thirds of the first cutting of hay has been accomplished. A few fields with armyworm damage have been found across the state.

Soybean planting, at 47 percent, was slowed by the recent wet weather and still lags about a week behind the 5-year average. Most of the state's corn crop has emerged and was rated in mostly good-to-excellent condition. Over half of the 2008 tobacco acreage has been set, a pace just slightly behind last year and normal.

Other field activities last week included repairing machinery and applying post-emergent herbicides. There were 3 days considered suitable for fieldwork last week.

As of Friday, topsoil moisture levels were rated 4 percent short, 76 percent adequate, and 20 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 4 percent very short, 9 percent short, 74 percent adequate, and 13 percent surplus. Temperatures across the state averaged near to slightly above normal, while precipitation averaged slightly above to above normal.


"Two to six inches of rain, depending upon your location, over Saturday through Tuesday has brought most field work to a standstill. Corn seems to be progressing well even though many acres are wet from rain. Crop spraying for weeds and soybean planting will be back full speed ahead as weather permits." Tim Campbell, Dyer County

"Heavy rains fell early this past week with most of the county reporting 2-5 inches. Several acres of hay had been cut and producers have spent the last part of the week trying to get it to dry out. Some additional acres of corn and soybeans were planted last weekend, but all field work was brought to a halt on Monday morning when the rain started. Corn producers have made good progress in getting their crop side-dressed with nitrogen and applying post-emerge herbicides." Jeff Lannom, Weakley County

"Rains continue to keep soil moisture in the adequate range. Corn is off to a wonderful start this year. Soybeans are emerging very well. There has been 'Take-All' seen in some wheat fields around the county. A few fields have been found with about 20 percent Take-All damage." Dean Northcutt, Coffee County

"Hay harvest and planting was slowed by numerous showers through the week. Strawberry harvest is beginning to decline although producers are still picking high quality fruit. Vegetable production is looking good with early sweet corn about 3 weeks away. Apple growers are reporting a full crop and have some damage by fireblight with Pink Lady being hit the most." Kim Frady, Bradley County

"The area received from 0.50 to 1.00 inches of rain during the week. Scattered showers and overcast conditions slowed hay harvest to a near standstill. First cutting of hay is becoming over-ripe and dropping in quality rapidly. Corn, soybeans and burley tobacco have benefited from the showers and are making excellent growth. Some lodging has been observed with the wheat crop. Pastures are making good growth and are very adequate to support livestock. Some producers are reporting flies on cattle with controls being applied." Bob Sliger, Monroe County


Temperatures averaged a more normal 68 degrees after two weeks of below normal readings. Western areas of Kentucky experienced above normal rainfall while central areas had very little moisture.

Rainfall amounts ranged from .2 to 3.1 inches with an average of 1.18 inches statewide, slightly above normal. Weather conditions have put much of the state at least a week behind schedule. Days suitable for fieldwork averaged 4.4 out of a possible seven.

Topsoil moisture was rated 5 percent short, 80 percent adequate and 15 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture was rated 6 percent short, 74 percent adequate and 20 percent surplus. Major farm activities this past week included harvesting hay when possible, planting soybeans, setting tobacco and finishing up corn planting.

Corn planting was nearing completion by Sunday, June 1, with 95 percent in the ground. A year ago, virtually all corn had been planted with the five year average at 96 percent. About 84 percent of the planted acreage had emerged, compared with 96 percent a year ago and the average of 92 percent. Emerged corn was in fair to excellent condition, with 6 percent rated poor, 20 percent fair, 59 percent good and 15 percent excellent. Height of the most advanced fields averaged 17 inches statewide, while average height of emerged corn was 10 inches.

As of Sunday, June 1, just 38 percent of the soybean crop had been seeded. This is about two weeks behind last year and 10 days behind the average. Last year 74 percent had been seeded on June 1, and the five year average was 57 percent. About 18 percent of planted acreage had emerged, compared with last years 56 percent and the average of 42. Condition of emerged soybeans was rated 2 percent poor, 31 percent fair, 60 percent good, and 7 percent excellent.

Cool temperatures and wet weather have slowed the progress of the tobacco crop. Close to half of the intended burley acreage had been set by June 1. Producers reported 48 percent of the crop had been transplanted compared with 75 percent a year ago and the average of 58 percent. Dark tobacco acreage was 42 percent set, compared with 69 percent last year and the average of 58. Condition of set tobacco was reported as 4 percent poor, 33 percent fair, 51 percent good, and 12 percent excellent. Some producers have mowed plants in beds several times to keep them small enough to set in the field. Other producers are dealing with transplants too small to set.

Harvest should start late this week for barley. Most producers expect a good quality crop. Wheat harvest is expected to begin in southern Kentucky in about two weeks. Wet weather has caused some lodging, along with some concern that head scab and blight may affect yield and test weight. Wheat condition was reported as 1 percent very poor, 2 percent poor, 20 percent fair, 45 percent good and 32 percent excellent.

Weather conditions have made hay harvest difficult. Much cut hay was rained on or had very poor curing conditions. Pastures were in fair to excellent condition and were rated 2 percent very poor, 6 percent poor, 34 percent fair, 48 percent good and 10 percent excellent. Grain sorghum planting advanced to 30 percent complete, well behind last year and the average.

North Carolina

Most of North Carolina received scattered rain throughout the week with Charlotte recording 1.14 inches. Soil moisture levels in the Mountain Region are considerably dryer than the Piedmont and Coastal Regions. In the Mountain Region there was little relief, with moisture amounts between .32 to 1.08 inches.

There were 5.6 days suitable for field work, compared to 5.9 from the previous week.

Statewide soil moisture levels are rated at 4 percent very short, 21 percent short, 72 percent adequate and 3 percent surplus.

Activities during the week included the planting of cotton, peanuts, sorghum, soybeans, sweet potatoes, flue-cured and burley tobacco and harvesting hay, barley, rye and truck crops.

South Carolina

A good part of the Pee Dee region received rain this past week, but amounts in many areas remained below average. The upstate area of South Carolina has been slighted from adequate precipitation for a long time.

Savannah River lakes have been well below normal for many months now. The dry weather has allowed farmers a lot of time for field work, but moisture is needed for good crop development.

Warmer, more seasonable temperatures were causing soil moisture ratings to decline at a faster pace. State average ratings were 7 percent very short, 57 percent short, and 36 percent adequate. Like the preceding week, there was a statewide average of 6.2 days that were suitable for field work.

More rain is needed to help prevent yield loss in older corn. Conditions fell due to inadequate moisture for most of the state, but the crop remains mostly good overall.

Cotton planting was mostly complete as of last week. There has been slight thrips injury to some plants. Cotton was reported as 1 percent very poor, 2 percent poor, 35 percent fair, 60 percent good, and 2 percent excellent.

Oats continued to ripen fast. Dry weather has allowed for ongoing small grain harvest with acceptable yields reported thus far. Conditions were little changed from a week ago.

Peanut planting was finishing up in many areas. The crop remains mostly good, as development was just beginning. Conditions were 1 percent poor, 30 percent fair, 67 percent good, and 2 percent excellent. Farmers were still busy in the fields planting

Soybean planting progressed, with most single crop beans already in the ground. Conditions weakened from the week before, but the majority of the crop was mostly good.

The sweet potato crop was over half way planted. The crop was in fair condition.

Rains in the Pee Dee, coupled with warm temperatures have helped tobacco to come on strong. Winter wheat has been helped by favorable weather for harvest. Like oats, conditions were similar to the prior week.

Livestock conditions declined slightly, but were still mostly good. Pasture conditions dropped significantly with the warmer temperatures, as the Upstate continued to be shorted on rain. Grain hay cutting was ahead of last year, as well as the five-year average, and was nearing completion.

Peaches were progressing well. Conditions fell somewhat from the previous week, but were still looking good for most producers. Growers were continuing to apply preventative disease controls.

Vegetable conditions were lower. Cantaloupes and cucumbers were in mostly fair condition, while tomatoes remained mostly good. Snap bean conditions ranged from poor to excellent.


Virginia experienced scattered showers, with heavier rains in the eastern part of the state. Days suitable for field work were 5.8.

The majority of corn is in good to fair condition. Cool temperatures and lack of water in some areas have stunted corn growth and caused some yellowing. Most of this can be corrected with warmer weather and timely rains.

The hay crop looks good as farmers complete their first cutting. The initial hay yields are favorable.

Tobacco transplanting has slowed as some farmers wait for rain. The majority of Virginia’s tobacco is in good condition.

Other farming activities included making hay, planting soybeans, side-dressing corn with nitrogen, harvesting strawberries, and attending Grain Field Day.


Comments are based on comments reported by extension agents, farmers, commodity specialists, and other knowledgeable individuals.


ACCOMACK (Jim Belote)

“Potato crop could be one of the best we have had in recent years. Wheat crop starting to turn color. Look's very good. Corn crop off to a good start but needs some warm weather. Nights have been very cool and it has been wet resulting in some yellowing, purple coloring and a little bite of stunting. Soybean planting will pick up dramatically this coming week if weather forecast for good weather holds up. Growers stringing tomatoes, applying potash for soybeans and some side dressing of corn with nitrogen. Growers also attended Small Grain Field day at Research Station At Painter this past week.”

MIDDLESEX (David Moore)

“Corn is yellow and stunted, but will get better with side-dress nitrogen and warmer weather. Some slug and grub damage around. Some replanting continues and even some first planting of corn still going on. Soybean planting is in full swing. Barley and wheat are drying down quickly and barley harvest will begin next week. Haymaking is great and first cutting harvest is about over. Watermelon and cantaloupe planting began this week. Sweet potatoes will be set out soon.”


“Weekend rains brought needed relief to dry corn fields, but the 1.5 to 4 or more inches of rain lodged a significant portion of the wheat crop. This will likely slow wheat harvest when it begins, and possibly reduce grain quality. Farmers last week were busy side-dressing corn and preparing combines for small grain harvest. Many were also planting full-season soybeans. Most replanting of slug-damaged corn has been accomplished.”


“Dryer during week which allowed some more soybeans to be planted and some more hay to be cut and baled. Corn side-dressing progressed. Violent storms on Saturday and Sunday lodged more of the barley and wheat crops which will make harvest difficult. Vegetable planting and harvest of early crops continue. There are a few strawberries left. Corn is looking a little better with the warmer temperatures.”


“Hay making started. Corn ground finally suitable to plant. Light frost on Thursday morning appeared not to have damaged any plants other than slowing growth.”


“Cool temperatures have slowed corn growth. Rain would be nice as soil moisture is continuing to decrease. Pasture quality has decreased as grasses reach maturity. Hay production is moving along well. Grasses are loosing quality every day. Most small grain harvested for forage is complete.”


SCOTT (Scott Jerrell)

“Lack of rain and cooler than normal temperatures seems to have slowed pasture and meadow growth substantially. This past week, two days of rain equaling almost 3/4 of an inch of precipitation, may give some temporary relief. Hay yields are still suffering from last year, with most farmers reporting shortages in the 1/4 to 1/3 range. Vegetable crops continue on strong, with some micronutrient deficiencies showing up in early planted half runner beans.”


ROCKINGHAM (Amber D. Vallotton)

“Slug pressure continues to be a major challenge in no-till fields with heavy residue. In a plot in the northern part of the county, slug numbers were between 10 to 30 slugs captured using baited attractant traps. Newly emerged corn showed excessive rasping damage in these plots. Plants can often outgrow some slug feeding, but with high slug numbers such as described above during the vulnerable new seedling stage, molluscicides such as metaldehyde should be used for controlling. Application timing and environmental conditions are crucial to understand when applying in order to get the best control. Local Extension can be contacted for further details.”


“Field work was very busy last week with corn planting, soybean planting and hay harvest in full swing. The windy conditions rapidly dried the soil surface and many farmers are hoping for some rain. Tobacco planting has slowed as several producers wait for rain. Wheat is drying down very rapidly and producers are starting to get their combines ready for the field.”

CAROLINE (McGann Saphir)

“Grain producers are harvesting barley and planting double-crop soybeans into barley stubble. Producers are also side-dressing corn with nitrogen. Corn crop is starting to green up and put on excellent growth after cool weather and excess rains hampered early growth. Some damage from slugs and army worms, especially in no-till fields has been reported. Hay producers have generally gotten a very good first cutting and are fertilizing hay fields and hoping for continued good moisture. Vegetable farmers are harvesting an excellent crop of strawberries, staking and fertilizing tomatoes, and preparing land for pumpkin planting.

HENRICO (Kilby D Majette)

“Several farmers had to replant their corn due to poor germination cause by this year’s cold, wet spring weather conditions.”


MECKLENBURG (C. Taylor Clarke Jr.)

“Cool weather, especially cool nights has slowed tobacco development substantially. Transplanting was delayed due to several rains during the month compared to last spring. However no one is complaining. Warmer weather forecasted for the upcoming week should improve tobacco development, soybean emergence etc. seem to be doing very well. Tobacco is looking good in the fields and most is growing well. Trees in yards are showing stress from last year's drought.

SURRY (Glenn Slade)

“The area is beginning to dry out. Stands of corn are good after much replanting due to excessive rain in April. Peanuts, cotton, and soybeans are emerging well. Barley harvest is under way.”

CHESAPEAKE CITY (Watson Lawrence)

“Frequent rains have hampered most field work. Many acres of alfalfa have over-matured waiting on suitable curing weather for first cutting. Last weekend brought the best curing weather we have seen this spring. A lot of hay being cut this week. Soybean planting has resumed since last week’s 1/2 to 1-inch rain. Corn crop maturity is behind schedule at this point. Wheat is maturing nicely with adequate soil moisture. Strawberry season is extended this year due to favorable cool temperatures.”

VIRGINIA BEACH (Cal Schiemann)

“Warm weather is bringing the strawberry harvest to an end. It was an excellent crop but early season weekend rain showers kept many u-pickers away. A lot of fruit went un-harvested at that time.”


MONTGOMERY (Barry Robinson)

“Lots of hay being harvested — early reports estimated an average-high yield. Winter grains still being harvested and corn is beginning to be planted. Fruit crops are looking good so far, but need more rainfall than the brief showers we have been receiving. This need for precipitation is now becoming evident in pastures on marginal soils.

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