Upper Southeast crops need general rain

The big story in the upper Southeast this past week was crop deterioration due to high temperatures and lack of rainfall. South Carolina was probably hardest hit, with corn twisting and double-crop soybean planting coming to a halt.

Here’s how the situation unfolded according to the various state USDA/NASS field offices during the week ended June 8.

North Carolina

North Carolina received between zero to 1.46 inches of rain throughout the week. Laurinburg reported the most with 1.46 inches. Soil moisture levels in the state deteriorated greatly with short and very short reported at 69 percent compared to 25 percent for the week ending June 1.

High temperatures and lack of rain have been the main contributors to the deterioration. There was some concern the lack of rain and excess heat will adversely affect the corn and soybean crop during their critical developmental stages.

There were 6.6 days suitable for field work, compared to 5.6 from the previous week.

Statewide soil moisture levels were rated at 15 percent very short, 54 percent short, 31 percent adequate and 0 percent surplus.

Activities during the week included the planting of peanuts, sorghum, soybeans, sweet potatoes, and burley tobacco and harvesting hay, Irish potatoes, barley, rye, oats, wheat and truck crops.

South Carolina

South Carolina crops were hit hard this past week due to extreme temperatures, and absent rainfall. In one week’s time, conditions dropped dramatically for most crops. Soils dried out fast, and hindered late plantings.

State average soil moisture ratings were reported at only 40 percent very short, 47 percent short, and 13 percent adequate. Sunny skies were the cause for a statewide average of 6.5 days that were suitable for field work.

Corn was twisting in the fields. The high temperatures were causing heat compromising stress. Some early corn was tasseling, and was in need of water. The crop cannot stand the extreme heat without any rain. Corn conditions fell sharply from the previous week. The crop was mostly good last week. This week, 24 percent of the crop was reported in very poor or poor condition.

Cotton planting was all but complete. Thrips were still a problem for some farmers. Cotton conditions dropped as well and were 2 percent very poor, 5 percent poor, 52 percent fair, 40 percent good, and 1 percent excellent.

Oat harvest continued at a rapid pace. Conditions were still looking mostly good.

Peanut planting was just about finished. Only 1 percent of the crop was reported as very poor or poor the previous week. This past week 11 percent of peanuts planted were very poor, or poor. Conditions were 2 percent very poor, 9 percent poor, 42 percent fair, and 47 percent good.

Soybean planting behind small grains slowed due to dry soils. Conditions dropped from mostly good to mostly fair.

Sweet potato planting continued. The crop remained in mostly fair condition.

Many acres of tobacco were being hit hard with tomato spotted wilt virus. The tobacco condition dropped sharply as well, but was still in mostly good condition.

Winter wheat harvest was strong and was cutting well. Like oats, conditions were still similar to the prior week.

Livestock conditions declined due to the extreme heat and lack of rain. Once again, pasture conditions dropped significantly with the hot temperatures. Conditions went from 11 percent poor, and very poor to 39 percent very poor, and poor.

Grain hay harvest was almost complete. Peach conditions overall dropped somewhat, but a small percentage was reported in excellent condition due to irrigation. Most vegetable crops suffered from the drought and heat, except for those that were able to get moisture from irrigation.


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 was 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 looked good as farmers completed their first cutting. The initial hay yields were favorable.

Tobacco transplanting slowed down as some farmers waited for rain. The majority of Virginia’s tobacco was in good condition.

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


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


MIDDLESEX (David Moore) 
”Hot weather and recent showers are really pushing corn. Fields are showing some yellowing due to nitrogen and sulfur deficiencies caused by cool wet conditions earlier. Corn is now growing out of that. Still some signs of early season grub and slug problems as some stands are erratic. No known corn pest problems currently. Full season soybean planting is well under way and many producers are done with that and will plant the majority of their beans after small grains. Dribbling of nitrogen on corn is in full swing with some producers already done. Producers are making some post emergent treatments on corn for escape weeds and grasses. Land prep continues for soybean planting. Barley harvest has begun. Moisture is good, test weight is very good and yields are average to above average. Wheat is ripening fast and harvest may begin next week in some areas. Vegetable producers are planting tomatoes, cantaloupes, peppers and sweet potatoes. Sweet corn and early tomatoes look good.”

”More rain during the week slowed field work again. May have had some barley cut if not for the rain. Hard rains and wind in some cases lodged more barley and wheat. Corn side-dressing continued. Vegetable planting and harvest continued”.


HIGHLAND (Rodney Leech) “Severe storms passing through on Wednesday caused some damage to trees and farm buildings. Moisture levels adequate to surplus in storm paths. Some hay making between showers.”


PITTSYLVANIA (Jamie Stowe, Stephen Barts) “A week of extremely hot/dry weather began to take a toll on crops. Tobacco appears excellent but is in need of rainfall. Late planted tobacco is suffering as most has not set roots. Small grains harvest could begin this week. Most producers have baled last of first cutting of hay. Both hay and pasture are deteriorating quickly due to high temperatures and lack of rainfall.”


CULPEPER (Carl Stafford) “Three to four inches of rain fell during the week. There was temporary flooding in low lying areas. High winds and electrical outages in some areas. Replanting some corn in wet areas due to slugs and cut worm damage. Finishing up beans, harvesting barley and wheat and planting double crop beans. Hay harvest is progressing well.”

FREDERICK (Michael Clem) “Nearly every day was suitable for field work. However, several days brought brief afternoon thunderstorms. Some were severe with high winds. Apples are approximately 25-30mm.”

ROCKINGHAM (Amber D. Vallotton) “Slug counts in no-till research plots in the northern part of the county continued to be high under some conditions. There have been numerous reports of excessive slug damage necessitating replanting of the summer crop. The recent hot temperatures should reduce favorable conditions for slug activity. However, farmers should continue scouting fields for signs of slug damage.”


AMHERST (William W. Seay) “Hay harvest continues. Quantity is good but quality is diminishing. Producers are harvesting excess pasture growth as well”.

CAROLINE (McGann Saphir) “Widespread thunderstorms with heavy rain and wind have caused a lot of wheat and barley to lodge. Farmers are continuing to fertilize corn crops with side-dress nitrogen, 
when possible. Hay making has been negatively impacted by daily rainstorms.”


SURRY (Glenn Slade) “Heat and drying soil conditions have corn twisting in the afternoons. Peanuts and cotton are not stressed from the heat so far. Some soybeans are slow germinating due to dry topsoil. Growers have combines out, ready for wheat harvest as soon as moisture levels drop.”

CHESAPEAKE CITY (Watson Lawrence) “Cool, wet, weather early in May caused a complete stand failure of 175 acres of cotton in Chesapeake. We saw morning

temperatures of 41 degrees in May which caused damping off disease to reduce cotton stands to unmanageable stand levels. Wheat harvest may get under way next week. Grain moisture was too high this week. Soybean planting continues and should be completed in a timely manner with good soil moisture conditions. Very little re-plant concerns thus far. High temperatures this weekend should finish the strawberry crop for 2008.”


MONTGOMERY (Barry Robinson) “Most of the first hay cuttings are complete with good yields. Corn is doing well so far. Fruit crops are looking good right now. All crops are in dire need of rainfall, with some of the heavily grazed pastures starting to show heat and drought stress. Results of last year's drought beginning to show on some mature trees, in both urban and forest settings.”

SCOTT (Scott Jerrell) “Hot, dry conditions are threatening to set up conditions similar to early last year. Hay yields are across the board with some producers being 10-15 percent short, others 30 percent over normal yields. Cattle are still struggling due to slow grass growth. Sheep continue strong, with producers preparing for and looking forward to a strong breeding stock sale next Saturday.”

TAZEWELL (John Blankenship) “Farmers are finishing up corn planting and getting into the first cutting of hay. Due to dry conditions last summer farmers are spraying thistles and weeds that have a deeper root system and competing with the forages.”

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 three quarters 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 one fourth to one third range. Vegetable crops continue on strong, with some micronutrient deficiencies showing up in early planted half runner beans.”

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