Southeast wheat crop looking good

The wheat crop across the Southeast continued to work toward maturity as the week of April 27 began. Although there were some reports of insect and disease problems throughout the area, most fields showed promise of a good harvest.

Early planting of most major field crops was under way, with some cotton planted in Florida.

Dry soils were becoming a major concern in some sections of the lower Southeast, while beneficial rainfall was received in upper reaches of the area.

Here’s how the various USDA/NASS state field offices reported the situation for the week beginning April 27.


Average temperatures and little to no rain provided a dry week for farmers. Daytime lows across the state were in the high 40s, 50s, and 60s; highs were in the upper 80s with a maximum of 90 in Umatilla.

Peanut planting began in areas of the Panhandle with 7 percent completed. Potato harvest continued in the Hastings area.

Some cotton was planted in Jackson County where fields had sufficient moisture. Although extremely dry in areas, there was enough moisture in some parts of Jefferson County to plant soybeans, peanuts, and other spring crops.

Windy conditions and lack of rainfall resulted in dry topsoil across the state. Topsoil moisture was mostly short to very short in all areas while subsoil moisture was mostly adequate.

Field activities continued for vegetable producers last week with squash harvested in Washington County. Warm weather helped growth of the corn crop in Jackson County. Harvesting and packing of beans, corn, squash, and tomatoes continued in Florida City. Cucumbers continued to be planted in Fort Pierce. Most spring crops looked good in Immokalee. However, some diseases were showing up in the melon fields. The local strawberry harvest continued in Starke. Other vegetables marketed throughout the week were broccoli, cabbage, celery, sweet corn, eggplant, lettuce, and peppers.

In the Panhandle and northern areas, pasture condition was poor to good with most in fair condition. Pasture condition improved following recent rains and showers. Some acreage of winter grazing was hayed. Some cattle were being fed supplemental hay on operations where the pasture was poor.

The condition of cattle was mostly good. In central areas, pasture condition was poor to good with most in fair condition. Drought is still the biggest factor in restricting grass growth. Seasonal windy conditions and lack of rainfall have hurt forage growth. The cattle were in very poor to good condition with most in fair condition. In the southwestern areas, pasture was in very poor to good condition. Two weeks without rain and high winds have been bad for forage growth. Statewide, cattle condition was very poor to good with most in fair condition.

Temperatures in citrus-producing areas over the past week were normal for this time of year. Most days were in the mid to high 80s, while nights were in the 50s. No significant rainfall was recorded across the Citrus Belt.

Dryer weather the past couple of weeks has prompted growers to run irrigation on a more robust schedule. Overall, trees of all ages look good with lots of foliage and healthy new fruit.

Growers were putting out applications of summer oils, fertilizing, and performing general maintenance on groves.

New trees were being planted as available where there was sufficient irrigation to keep the trees healthy during the dry season.

Harvesting crews were active again this past week moving large quantities of Valencia oranges to the processors. Grapefruit harvest, at about a million boxes, was expected to drop off more rapidly with the availability lessening. Honey tangerine harvest, at over 150,000 boxes per week, was being harvested primarily for the processed market.


Much of the state experienced sunny temperatures and dry conditions, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office. Daily average high temperatures fluctuated between the high-70s and low-80s. Average lows were in the 50s most of the week.

Soil moisture conditions were rated at 6 percent very short, 39 percent short, 52 percent adequate, and 3 percent surplus.

Due to the dry conditions, many fields were too dry to plant. Land preparation and planting had almost stopped.

Cattle farmers were feeding hay at a time when they usually have plenty of grazing.

The low topsoil moisture caused crops to slowly develop. Peach conditions continue to decline due to the low temperatures during February, March and April.

Corn planting continued and some hay producers prepared for their first cutting of hay.

Other activities included transplanting tobacco, spreading litter on cotton land, applying herbicides and bedding the land for peanuts.

Wheat continues to look very promising with high yield potential. County Extension agents reported an average of 6.3 days suitable for fieldwork.


District 1 — Northwest

“We received some good rain on Sunday night and during the early hours of Monday, April 28th. It has become very dry once again.”

District 2 — North Central

“Routine care of livestock and poultry were the main activities.”

District 3 — Northeast

“Soaking rains improved soil moisture.”

District 5 — Central

“Need rain badly! Corn planting continues and some hay producers prepared for their first cutting of hay. It's beginning to get somewhat dry again. Crops are looking good from the late winter and early spring rains. Peach conditions continue to decline due to February, March and April freezes. Early varieties were hurt most. Soils are very dry now. Land preparation and planting have almost stopped. Cattle farmers are feeding hay at a time when they usually have plenty of grazing. Farmers are irrigating wheat, rye, and oats in the fields where they can.”

District 6 — East Central

“Wheat continues to look very promising with high yield potential... never did see any disease, but cereal leaf beetle population exploded this year and did some pretty fair damage to flag leaves. Preparing cotton land.... need rain. Should be planting a lot next week if we get predicted rain on Monday.”

District 7 — Southwest

“All crops in good condition. Topsoil moisture low even with up to one half inch of rain 5 days ago. Crops slow developing. Some wheat prematurely drying down. Many fields are beginning to get too dry to plant.”

District 8 — South Central

“Getting dry. Transplanting tobacco, cutting hay and weeds for first time. Spreading litter on cotton land. Applying herbicides and bedding land for cotton and peanuts. Peanut and cotton planting to begin full scale this week.”


Producers made favorable progress last week with most fieldwork, despite frequent showers across much of West Tennessee. Half of the state's corn acreage had been planted by week's end with side-dressing under way.

Planting of the corn crop continues to lag behind last year and the 5-year average by about two weeks. Cotton planting began last week, mostly in southern middle portions of the state. Nearly the entire winter wheat crop has reached the jointing stage, in line with the 5-year average.

Fungicide applications also began last week. The crop was rated in mostly good condition with only a few reports of insect and disease pressure.

Besides planting, the other major agricultural field activities last week producers were applying pesticides, fertilizer, and harvesting early strawberries.

There were 5 days suitable for fieldwork last week. As of Friday, topsoil moisture levels were rated 7 percent short, 72 percent adequate, and 21 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 4 percent very short, 11 percent short, 66 percent adequate, and 19 percent surplus.

Temperatures averaged four to six degrees below normal across Tennessee last week, while rainfall averaged one third to one inch below normal.


"Overall, our farming situation is good. Farmers are having trouble planting corn because of rains. As soon as soil becomes dry enough to plant, it rains; thus postponing planting. Upland wheat is in good to excellent condition and some of the earlier wheat is beginning to head. Pasture conditions are good and almost all farmers are no longer feeding hay." J.C. Dupree, Jr., Lauderdale County

"Good week so far. Corn planting is in full swing, pastures continue to get fertilized and sprayed for weeds. Freeze last week did very little damage to fruit." Steve Glass, Decatur County

"Farmers are optimistic about the wheat crop, minimal disease pressure at this point. Tobacco greenhouse plants are in very good condition, growth of plants a little behind schedule but sunny, warm weather may help. Some growers are looking at beginning to set tobacco this week." Paul Hart, Robertson County

"Wheat producers have been busy applying fungicide and insecticide applications. About 10 percent of the crop is showing visible head emergence. Powdery mildew was noticeable in most fields but warmer, drier conditions have slowed progress. A few cereal leaf beetles have emerged. Overall the crop appears to have better than average yield potential. Drier conditions have allowed corn producers to catch up on planting with about 90 percent of the crop planted and 25 percent of the crop emerged. Most of the larger acreage producers reporting planting complete. Warmer and drier conditions allowed cotton growers to get a number of acres planted with about a fourth of the crop planted. Pastures and the hay crop continue to progress with warmer conditions. Hay feeding has ceased. Fescue is beginning to mature with the bulk of the crop in the boot to early head stage." Ed Burns, Franklin County

"Producers took advantage of good work weather to make good progress with corn planting and early forage harvest. Wheat is making excellent progress with producers applying fungicides and controls for cereal leaf beetle on some fields. Strawberry producers are harvesting early berries with good yields of high quality fruit." Bob Sliger, Monroe County


Above normal temperatures and below normal rainfall prevailed across the Commonwealth this past week.

Temperatures for the week averaged 64 degrees across the state which was 5 degrees above normal. Total precipitation for the week was 0.29 inches statewide, which was 0.64 inches below normal.

Topsoil moisture was rated as 5 percent short, 79 percent adequate, and 16 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture was rated 3 percent short, 80 percent adequate, and 17 percent surplus. There were 5.5 days suitable for fieldwork.

The primary farming activities for the week were planting corn, seeding tobacco, applying fertilizer, spraying weeds, plowing, marketing cattle, and working on farm equipment. In some areas soil saturation continues.

As of Sunday April 27, 43 percent of tobacco plants were less than 2 inches in height, 37 percent were 2 to 4 inches tall, and 20 percent were taller than 4 inches.

Corn planting progress continued to be behind last year and the five-year average. As of Sunday April 27, 31 percent of the intended corn acreage had been planted compared to 54 percent for last year and 64 percent for the five-year average. Last week 11 percent of the intended corn acreage had been planted.

Corn emergence was reported at 4 percent, below last year’s 18 percent and the five year average of 30 percent. The condition of the corn crop was rated 3 percent poor, 22 percent fair, 64 percent good, and 11 percent excellent.

Farmers were slowly planting soybeans, with 2 percent planted as of Sunday which was the same as the previous year and 4 percent for the five- year average. Producers indicated that nitrogen fertilizer supplies in their area were 95 percent of normal.

Seven percent of the winter wheat crop had headed, well behind last year’s 16 percent and the five year-average of 20 percent.

Winter wheat condition was rated 5 percent poor, 22 percent fair, 53 percent good, and 20 percent excellent.

Hay crops were rated 3 percent very poor, 11 percent poor, 28 percent fair, 48 percent good, and 10 percent excellent. Farmers expect the first date of alfalfa cutting to be around May 9. Only a few reports of alfalfa weevil have been received. As of April 27, pasture condition was 5 percent very poor, 12 percent poor, 38 percent fair, 38 percent good, and 7 percent excellent.

North Carolina

Most of North Carolina received rain this week with Roanoke Rapids recording 3.90 inches. However, no precipitation was recorded for Jefferson, Monroe, or Waynesville. Above average temperatures were experienced throughout the state with average temperatures ranging from 56 to 68 degrees.

There were 4.4 days suitable for field work, compared to 5.6 the previous week.

Statewide soil moisture levels are rated at 1 percent very short, 11 percent short, 67 percent adequate and 21 percent surplus.

Activities during the week included the planting of corn and sorghum, managing tobacco transplants, spreading of fertilizer, and other spring planting preparations.

South Carolina

Most of South Carolina received rainfall this past week. Totals along the coastal areas tended to be the lightest. The planting of spring crops continued. Most of the state’s crop conditions did not change significantly from the previous week.

Soil moisture was 1 percent very short, 20 percent short, 76 percent adequate, and 3 percent surplus. There was a statewide average of 5.9 days suitable for field work.

Corn was mostly planted, and in mostly good condition. Oat heading was progressing and should be turning color soon. The crop was still in mostly good condition. Soybean planting was just beginning.

Tobacco transplanting was in high gear this past week. The young plants are also in mostly good condition. The lack of a significant late frost has been a relief to many farmers.

Winter wheat was 71 percent headed and like oats continued to look good. Although some of the wheat crop is being treated for foliar diseases, yield potential currently looks good in many areas. The crop is poised to make a good yield if we continue to get rain for grain development over the next couple or so weeks.

Livestock were still in fair to mostly good condition. Pasture growth was increasing. Conditions were little changed from the previous week. Grain hay harvest picked-up and was in mostly fair to good condition.

Peaches were progressing well. Condition was unchanged from the previous week.

Vegetable planting is still under way with the tomato crop nearly complete. Conditions still ranged from fair to good.


There were heavy rain showers throughout most of the Commonwealth this past week. Days suitable for field work were 3.7. Warm temperatures and adequate moisture improved conditions of pasture and hay.

Good progress was made on corn plantings during the start of the week. However, later in the week planting was delayed in some areas due to the rain.

Other farming activities this past week included scouting for insects and disease, laying plastic and readying transplants, harvesting strawberries, mending fence, shearing sheep, and spraying in preparation for soybean planting.


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


Highland (Rodney Leech): “Showers and warmer nights spurred grass growth. Chief activities included fertilizing hay meadows and pastures, working and turning out stock to summer grazing areas, fence repairs and sheep shearing.”


Clarke (Jake Grove): “Heavy rains this week are helping recharge soil moisture. Warmer weather with adequate moisture is bringing out pasture growth that had been delayed due to lower than normal temperatures.”

Culpeper (Carl Stafford): “Less than half of an inch of rain fell starting last night and this morning with good prospects for it to continue during the day. Perennial forages have responded to last week’s rain that is having a lasting impact on growth and surface moisture. Those that applied fertilizer are reaping its rewards when combined with adequate moisture that in the short-run will push the cool season grass growth curve higher. Early progress on row crops is slowed by rain, but crop benefits outweigh planting delays.”

Fauquier (Tim Mize): “Welcomed rainfall continued to fall across the county. The rains have delayed some fieldwork including fertilizing and seeding, although no one is complaining. Orchards and vineyards have benefited from the mild weather. Cattle have regained condition from the winter and somewhat limited feed supplies.”


Brunswick (Cynthia L. Gregg): “The past warm, dry weather has prompted aphid populations in small grains. The grass is coming along slowly. The soil is soaking up the water of the past few days. Still more is needed. Tobacco fields are being prepared for planting, as are other crop fields. Producers are getting haying equipment ready for May cuttings.”

Surry (Glenn Slade): “Field work is back in progress after rains the first of last week. Some places got over 3 inches total.”

Chesapeake City (Watson Lawrence): “We received 3-inches of rain in most parts this past week. Corn planting came to a complete halt, far behind our normal completion by this time. Farmers are not planting as much corn as anticipated with strong soybean prices. Wheat crop looks excellent with very few problems reported this spring. This rain should carry the crop to full grain fill. Several strawberry farms are opening for business this weekend. Cold temperatures last week appear not to have damaged wheat or the few acres of corn seedlings that emerged.”

Virginia Beach (Cal Schiemann): “Three to four inches of rain delayed corn planting and other field work for most of the week. Ponds, streams, ditches and swamps are full of water. All strawberry farms opened over the weekend for the public to pick berries.”


Carroll (Wythe Morris): “Scattered rain during the past week has helped dry conditions, especially since overcast and no wind accompanied the rain. The cold spell of two weeks ago may have missed the peaches, but still a little early to tell.”

Montgomery (Barry Robinson): “Recent rains have been beneficial to all crops, but some heavy downpours have caused erosion where vegetation became thin and died over the winter, most likely a result of last year's drought.”

Scott (Scott Jerrell): “Steady rains have helped pasture growth considerably. Strawberry harvest will begin this week, with good berry size and flavor. Alfalfa weevil has been found, and has done considerable damage on alfalfa that was not cut last fall.”


Caroline (McGann Saphir): “Grain farmers are applying the last amounts of fertilizer to small grain crops and scouting for insects and diseases. Corn producers were trying to get into very wet fields to finish planting this year’s crop. Farmers have planted a little over half the crop and much of that has emerged. Soil moisture is excellent after rains Sunday through Tuesday. Hay and pasture are looking much improved. Vegetable producers are laying plastic and readying transplants, and early strawberries are being picked and marketed.”


Accomack (Jim Belote): “Small grains starting to head. Tomato planting is in full swing. Some early planted tomatoes were being staked. Farmers continued laying plastic for later planted tomatoes. There has been active scouting for insects, disease and weeds in wheat, potatoes, tomatoes and other vegetables. Actively spraying land for no-till soybeans. Not much tillage except for vegetables. Almost all corn and soybeans will be no-till this year. Farmers are taking delivery on seed and checking with bankers on credit line increases due to higher and unforeseen increases in input cost.”

New Kent (Paul Davis): “Producers were waiting for the soil to dry out to finish planting corn. Producers were also getting soybean seed delivered and getting soybean land sprayed with herbicides. They were hunting turkeys and cleaning out drainage ditches.”

Westmoreland (Sam Johnson): “Warm and sunny most of the week and corn plantings continued after things dried out from rain the previous weekend. Other field preparations were done for soybeans and vegetables. Strawberry and asparagus harvest continued. Small grains were monitored for insect and disease problems.”

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