Thundershowers boost lower Southeast crops

The condition of Alabama’s corn crop varies drastically depending on the amount of rainfall received during this growing season. The crop has been slow to develop and remains behind last year and the five-year average for corn dented, corn mature and corn harvested.

In Florida, rainfall amounts last week varied from traces to more than six inches. Peanut pegging was 53 percent complete compared with 37 percent last year and 55 percent for the five year average.

Meanwhile, in Georgia scattered showers provided limited improvement to moisture conditions.

Here’s a look at the overall situation in the three states as reported by the USDA/NASS field offices for the week ending July 6.


Crops and pastureland benefited tremendously from the recent rain showers that fell in some locations during the past week. Larry Forrester, county executive director in the Dale County FSA office, stated the soil moisture condition improved during the past week due to more afternoon showers.

However, hydrological drought conditions worsened. Only 6.2 percent of the state was considered drought free, compared to 20.1 percent a week ago, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released for July 1, 2008. Average temperatures during the past week were below normal at most reporting weather stations.

Bridgeport, Guntersville, and Union Springs felt temperatures as many as five degrees below normal. Daytime highs ranged from 88 degrees in Union Springs to 96 degrees in Tuscaloosa.

Overnight lows varied between 52 degrees in Hamilton to 67 degrees in Bay Minette, Brewton, and Mobile. All weather stations reported receiving precipitation during the past week.

Total accumulations ranged from 0.06 inches in Muscle Shoals to 3.18 inches in Geneva. Year-to-date precipitation totals were below normal at all but three weather stations.

The condition of Alabama’s corn crop varied drastically depending on the amount of rainfall received during this growing season. This year’s corn crop has been slow to develop phenologically, and remained behind last year and the five-year average for corn dented, corn mature, and corn harvested.

Alex Brand, county executive director in the Wilcox County FSA office, indicated another shower or two was needed to push the corn crop to maturity.

James D. Jones, Jr., county Extension coordinator for Henry County, mentioned that the corn crop needed rain, but the cotton and peanut crops were fair to good.

Most of the state’s cotton crop was reported in good to excellent condition during the past week. Two-thirds of the crop was squaring, with 14 percent already setting bolls. Producers were busy spraying herbicides to help “clean up” the many weeds that emerged following the latest rainfall.

Pasture conditions in areas of the state that had not received any rainfall declined during the past week.

Henry Dorough, regional Extension agent located in Talladega County, reported that although pasture conditions across the area were in better condition than they were a year ago, many places that missed the widely scattered showers were showing signs of severe stress.

Contrastingly, Doyle Barnes, county executive director in the Covington County FSA office, indicated that pastures and hayfields made an unbelievable change after receiving good amounts of rainfall over a three day period last week. Some producers were harvesting a second cutting of hay.

Overall, the state’s livestock were reported in mostly good to excellent condition. Some producers continued to cull older cattle to reduce the amount of feedstuffs being consumed.


Warm, humid conditions continued along with prevailing showers. Rainfall amounts ranged from traces to more than six inches across the state. Santa Rosa County received two to four inches along with many areas of the southern Peninsula. Highlands, Collier, and St. Lucie counties all received between four to six inches.

Major cities averaged highs in the upper 80s and 90s with lows in the 60s and 70s. Daytime highs reached the upper 80s to mid-90s; lows were in the upper 60s and low 70s.

Peanut pegging was 53 percent complete compared with 37 percent last year, and 55 percent for the five year average. Peanut condition was rated 29 percent fair, 52 percent good, and 19 percent excellent.

Soil moisture was mostly short to adequate in the Panhandle and Big Bend areas; adequate in the central and southern Peninsulas.

In the Panhandle and northern areas, pasture condition was poor to excellent. Most pasture in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties continue in poor condition due to dry weather earlier in the year. Most cattle were in fair to excellent condition.

Pasture in the central areas was poor to excellent. Afternoon thunderstorms have benefitted pastures and rangeland in St. Johns County. The condition of the cattle was poor to excellent.

In the southwestern areas, pasture and range was in poor to excellent condition. In the past two weeks, the summer rains have markedly improved the pasture condition. The cattle condition was poor to good.

Statewide, the cattle condition was poor to excellent, with most in good condition.

Daily thunderstorms brought in the highest weekly totals of rainfall so far this year in the citrus producing area. Ft. Pierce and Sebring both had over six and one half inches for the week. Other weekly totals included over four inches in Immokalee and over three inches in Ona.

Daily high temperatures were mostly in the low 90s. Overall, the hot and wet weather has assisted in deep soakings and moist soil which is beneficial to the growth of both the foliage and the new fruit.

Next year’s fruit was progressing well, with oranges about golf ball size and grapefruit up to baseball size.

Production practices were on schedule in all areas which included heavy summer spraying and psyllids control. Harvest was winding down; a few Valencias remained, mostly in southern areas. Processing is expected to last about one more week.

Small amounts of fresh squeeze juice will continue into August. Grapefruit utilization was relatively over with a few thousand boxes of red varieties continuing to be processed each week. Honey tangerine harvest was done for the season.


Scattered showers provided limited improvement to moisture conditions, 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 25 percent very short, 38 percent short, 35 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus.

Rain helped prevent further declines in soil moisture condition. More rain will be needed to end drought conditions.

Corn and hayfields suffered from lack of moisture. In some areas, land was very dry causing hay and row crops to wilt.

Some farmers expect reduced yields due to drought conditions and insect damage on corn.

Other activities included controlling weeds in cotton, applying fungicides to peanuts and fertilizer to tobacco. County Extension agents reported an average of 6.0 days suitable for fieldwork.


District 1 — Northwest

“It is now becoming very dry and pastures, hay fields and crops are beginning to look wilted and twisting during the afternoon hours. Ponds, creeks and rivers are noticeably dropping now.”

District 2 — North Central

“Rain this week prevented further declines in soil moisture conditions, but still did not end drought conditions. More rain is needed. Corn and pasture/hayfields are suffering from moisture stress.”

District 3 — Northeast

“Conditions deteriorating rapidly. We are dry”.

District 4 — West Central

“Widely scattered showers across the county are helping maintain some soil moisture; bermudagrass is extremely slow to show any signs of growth or improvement. Little bermudagrass hay cut so far.”

District 5 — Central

“Scattered afternoon rains during the week. A blessing! Producers cutting what hay is ready. Cattle producers feeding hay due to lack of pasture. Soybean planting is finished.”

District 6 — East Central

“Getting some much needed scattered showers which means some fields are getting relief but many are not. Surprisingly, the cotton and peanuts are holding up pretty well and we know from the last two years that timely August rains can save those two crops. I believe resistant pigweeds have arrived in several places, but no positive confirmation. Grazing is scarce and hay is terribly short. I also believe we'll see some yield reduction in our corn due to stink bugs and oppressive heat during pollination. Double-cropped peanuts seem to be doing well, but soybeans and cotton behind wheat is slow to emerge and will probably run out of time (to make good yields) this fall.”

District 7 —Southwest

“Much stink bug damage is evident on corn. Yields will be reduced.”

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