Some Southeast crops got a second chance this past week as scattered showers provided much-needed moisture to areas badly in need of relief.
Still, dry weather remained the topic of the day according to state USDA, NASS field offices. That was especially true in Alabama for the week ending June 24. Although most of the state recorded at least some rainfall during the week the showers did little to alleviate the worsening drought.
Here’s a complete look around the area as reported by the state field offices of the USDA, NASS field offices:
Weather conditions were hot and mostly dry this past week, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office. Average highs were in the high 80s to the mid-90s; lows were in the 60’s.
Limited rainfall the first half of the week brought some relief from the drought. Topsoil moisture conditions were rated at 31 percent very short, 38 percent short, 31 percent adequate, and zero percent surplus.
Enough rain fell this past week to prevent crop conditions from deteriorating any further in most areas. Some areas even reported a slight improvement in conditions.
Farmers in northwest Georgia were able to resume planting after receiving the first significant rainfall in some time.
Forage crops have greened up some. Dryland crops continued to be in much worse shape than irrigated crops.
Vegetable growers were starting to see disease outbreaks in some of their crops. There were reports of tomato spotted wilt virus in tobacco and weed pressure was high in many fields.
Planting of soybeans continued.
Other activities included cutting hay, feeding hay to cattle, applying sucker control and insecticides to tobacco, applying herbicides to peanuts and cotton, applying poultry litter to pastures, and spraying pastures for weeds.
County Extension agents reported an average of 6.1 days suitable for fieldwork.
The outlook for Alabama’s 2007 crop season remained grim as exceptional drought conditions continued to spread across Alabama from central parts of the state to the Tennessee border.
Even after a week where most reporting weather stations recorded some rainfall, 90 percent of the state was suffering from extreme to exceptional drought conditions, with nearly 43 percent of Alabama categorized under exceptional drought conditions.
Just fewer than 63 percent of the state fell into the extreme to exceptional category a week ago, with none at this time last year.
Temperatures ranged from just below to just above average this past week. Daytime highs varied from 92 degrees in Bay Minnette to 99 degrees in Anniston, Talladega, and Pinson. Overnight lows differed from 52 degrees in Bridgeport to 67 degrees in Dothan.
The weather station in Bay Minnette reported receiving the most rain during the past week at 4.28 inches. The only weather station that did not receive some precipitation was Jasper.
Most of the state’s wheat crop has been harvested. Yields were better than expected after a large portion of the crop experienced damage from the Easter weekend freeze.
Leonard Kuykendall, Autauga County Extension agent, stated that some producers in the county planned on trying to salvage their corn crop by harvesting it as hay, haylage, or silage.
Alabama soybean growers made little progress in planting the remainder of their crop. The majority of the crop was reported in very poor to poor condition.
The majority of Alabama’s 2007 cotton crop remained in very poor or poor condition. William Birdsong, Extension agronomist at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center, rated the area’s crop as extremely poor to poor.
Most farmers were unable to achieve an acceptable stand in their fields due to the severe lack of soil moisture.
An overwhelming portion of this year’s cotton crop was planted into very dry soil in order to meet the crop insurance deadlines for full coverage, and to give the crop any chance of progressing forward if enough rainfall is received to cause seed germination and emergence.
Insect pressure has been low. Only a few reports of plant bugs and aphids have been received from producers in the Wiregrass region.
Growers were expected to begin applying nitrogen to fields that have decent stands.
Applications of glyphosate were made to control early weeds.
Peanut planting progressed slowly, as producers try to meet crop insurance deadlines. Most of the crop remained in very poor or poor condition.
Fruit and vegetable crops that were not irrigated did not produce much of a crop. Water restrictions made it very difficult for the nursery industry as well.
Doug Chapman, regional Extension agent in northwestern Alabama, indicated that local vegetable growers with irrigation capabilities were selling produce at area markets.
Alabama’s range and pasture condition remained virtually unchanged, with 85 percent reported in very poor or poor condition. Chip East, regional Extension agent in eastern Alabama, mentioned that cattle farmers are either selling their herds, or are feeding $100 bales of hay.
T.H. Gregg, Etowah County Extension agent, added that some producers in the county have been fortunate enough to get one cutting of hay.
Most of the state’s livestock were reported in very poor to poor condition.
Scattered rains in most areas aided crop and pasture growth during the week of June 18-24. Rain amounts totaled from traces at Jay, Ocklawaha, and Okahumpka, to nearly three and a half inches at Tampa.
However, the rainfall skipped some localities, especially those in the Big Bend area and western parts of the northern Peninsula.
Cotton and peanut growth were boosted in those localities receiving recent rains. However, some fields remain in very poor condition with plants wilting due to high temperatures and a lack of rain.
Some producers continued to replant acreage where seeds failed to germinate. Reporters rated peanut condition as 18 percent very poor, 40 percent poor, 30 percent fair, and 12 percent good with 15 percent of the crop pegged.
Virtually all dryland corn acreage has been negatively impacted due to drought.
Soils remain very dry in some localities because recent rainfall skipped these areas. Topsoil moisture was rated adequate and subsoil moisture was rated short to adequate over the southern Peninsula. Topsoil moisture was rated very short and subsoil moisture was rated short in the Panhandle.
Elsewhere, both topsoil and subsoil moisture rated very short.
Most vegetable harvesting in the central and southern Peninsula is finished for the season. However, Dade County producers continued to cut okra.
Watermelon and organic vegetable harvesting in the Suwannee Valley area is expected to continue during early July. Watermelon harvest also advanced at a rapid rate in Washington County.
In the Quincy area, growers are expected to market tomatoes through mid-July. Potato digging is expected to finish up around Palatka this week. Some light amounts of blueberries, cucumbers and squash were also picked during the week.
Tennessee Crop Weather
Two weather systems passed through Tennessee this past week bringing much needed precipitation to the state's crops and livestock. However, the effectiveness of these rains was lessened by daytime highs reaching into the low-to-mid 90s in most areas.
Condition ratings for the state's row crops all declined from the week earlier with corn and soybeans showing the largest increase in the very poor-to-poor categories.
Nearly three-fourths of the state's pastures were rated in very poor-to-poor condition.
Wheat growers took advantage of the hot weather to nearly wrap-up harvest, more than a week ahead of normal.
Over half of the cotton acreage was squaring by week's end with the crop rated in mostly good-to-fair condition.
Soybeans planted, at 97 percent, continued to outpace last year and the normal schedule. A small portion of the crop began blooming last week.
Other agricultural activities included side-dressing cotton, transplanting tobacco, and feeding hay.
There were 6 days considered suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture levels were rated 48 percent very short, 41 percent short, and 11 percent adequate. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 56 percent very short, 34 percent short, and 10 percent adequate. Temperatures averaged slightly above normal last week, while rainfall was above normal for the Plateau region, but below normal elsewhere.
County agent comments:
"There were a few showers in Shelby County, but not enough to quench the very dry crops; we need more rain!" Becky Muller, Shelby County
"Much of our corn is beyond recovery even if rains come. Pastures are parched. Hay supplies are very limited. Some hay is being fed. Some are considering cutting corn for hay. Soybeans are not growing and in need of a drink. Some fields behind wheat will not be planted unless it rains. Farmers are selling cattle due to the lack of feed. Tobacco is being irrigated where possible." Ken J. Goddard, Henry County
"One inch of rain or less of rainfall this past week has raised hopes, if not much grass." Rich Ritter, Perry County
"Conditions continue to deteriorate. Scattered rains have done little to help. Concern for pasture and water for animals have caused widespread selling. The search is on for hay and/or feeding alternatives. Corn revived a bit with some of the rains, but it is short and heat and dryness will surely affect pollination. Soybeans are short and hurting. Morale of the farming community is low." John Teague, Bedford County
"Another week of no rain other than a few scattered short showers. Many are feeding hay and selling cows. Irrigation rigs are running where water is available. First tomatoes are showing up at local farmer's market. Hot, dry weather is sapping any available moisture from soil." J. Dale Beaty, Warren County
"Most of the area received 1.0 to 1.5 inches of rain on Tuesday, June 19, with some scattered showers over the area at other times. The moisture allowed crop conditions to remain very similar to last week. Black shank is showing up in some burley tobacco fields. Water for livestock is a continuing problem for producers. A large number of cattle producers are supplementing pastures with hay that was scheduled for next winter feeding. A supply of available 'dairy' quality hay has been difficult to locate." Bob Sliger, Monroe County
Another week of scattered showers brought much needed rain, especially to the western part of the state.
There were 6.2 days suitable for field work compared to 5.9 from the previous week.
Statewide soil moisture levels are rated at 32 percent very short, 40 percent short, 28 percent adequate, and zero percent surplus.
Activities during the week included planting sorghum, soybeans, sweet potatoes, and burley tobacco.
First and second cuttings of hay, as well as harvesting truck crops, potatoes, and small grains, continued to progress.
Minimal rain for most counties over the past week is the topic of discussion over most of South Carolina.
Corn entered the critical development stage and some timely rain is needed to make a good crop this year.
At the end of the week, soils were rated at 9 percent very short, 46 percent short, 45 percent adequate, and zero percent surplus. The state average of days suitable for fieldwork was 6.0 for the week.
Rain was needed for corn, as fields across the state were silking and doughed. The crop condition slightly declined to 1 percent very poor, 20 percent poor, 43 percent fair, 31 percent good, and 5 percent excellent.
Cotton continued to look better than it did just last week. Conditions were 5 percent poor, 37 percent fair, 52 percent good, and 6 percent excellent.
Peanut planting was completed with 11 percent of the crop pegged.
Soybeans sustained well with condition rated at 12 percent poor, 36 percent fair, 50 percent good, and 2 percent excellent.
Tobacco topping gained momentum from last week with conditions posting a slightly improved 6 percent poor, 31 percent fair, 55 percent good, and 8 percent excellent.
With oat and winter wheat harvests leaping 20 percent-30 percent respectively, their conditions were OAT 7 percent very poor, 31 percent poor, 55 percent fair, 7 percent good, and zero percent excellent and winter wheat 21 percent very poor, 30 percent poor, 40 percent fair, 8 percent good, and 1 percent excellent.
Livestock condition was fair to mostly good. Overall, pasture conditions slightly declined.
Harvesting of most vegetable crops continued. No serious insect or disease problems were reported, but farmers continued preventive applications of pesticides.
Peach conditions were 91 percent very poor, 4 percent poor, 3percent fair and 2 percent good. Apple conditions were 40 percent very poor,
Dry weather conditions continue to take its toll on all crops and forage throughout most of the Commonwealth. Days suitable for fieldwork were 6.4.
Topsoil moisture was mostly short. Producers are harvesting wheat, but are holding off on planting double-cropped soybeans until soil moisture conditions improve. Wheat yields are reported as good.
Hay making continues with yields ranging from average to above average. Cattle markets are reporting larger numbers of livestock for sale as producers reduce herd size. Calves are being weaned early and shipped to market to conserve feed and pasture.
Corn is beginning to tassel and is entering a critical stage for ear and kernel growth. Tobacco layby and early topping continued.
Other activities this past week included post emergence spraying, scouting fields for weeds and insects, and finalizing the wheat harvest.