Upper Southeast crops need rainfall

Portions of South Carolina received appreciable rain from Tropical Storm Fay last week, but most growers in North Carolina and Virginia were not so fortunate.

Dry conditions persisted in Virginia where corn and soybean conditions worsened. Late planted soybeans are in danger of not making decent yields and some of the crop is dropping flowers prematurely.

In North Carolina the lack of rain was causing concern, with the heaviest stress on the Mountain Region’s livestock, pasture and feed supplies.

For an overall look at the situation for the week ending Aug. 24, here are reports from the various state USDA/NASS field offices.

North Carolina

Lexington had the most precipitation with 0.87 inches, but many North Carolina stations reported no rain for the week.

Average temperatures ranged from 63 to 79 degrees. According to reports, the small amount of rain throughout the state is of great concern, with the heaviest stress on the Mountain Region’s livestock, pasture, and feed supplies.

There were 6.5 days suitable for field work, compared to 6 days from the previous week.

Statewide soil moisture levels are rated at 36 percent very short, 38 percent short, 24 percent adequate and 2 percent surplus.

Activities during the week included the harvesting of hay, corn for silage, peaches, apples, sorghum and tobacco, and scouting for pest and disease problems.

South Carolina

About half of South Carolina received appreciable rain from Tropical Storm Fay. Once again, the Upstate missed out on precipitation. Hopefully, remnants of Fay moving east will provide some relief.

Average soil moisture ratings greatly improved once again over the previous week for the state, and were reported at 20 percent very short, 30 percent short, 43 percent adequate, and 7 percent surplus.

The average number of days that were suitable for field work was 5.4 last week.

Corn harvest was ongoing, but slowed in areas that got rains. Conditions were 46 percent very poor, 27 percent poor, 22 percent fair, and 5 percent good.

Recent rains have improved cotton conditions somewhat. Many growers were considering fungicide applications in areas with excessive rainfall. Conditions were 9 percent very poor, 13 percent poor, 46 percent fair, 30 percent good, and 2 percent excellent.

White mold and leaf spot were threats to peanuts that have experienced prolonged leaf wetness. Conditions were 4 percent poor, 36 percent fair, 57 percent good, and 3 percent excellent.

Continued rainfall would be beneficial for sorghum silage. Conditions were 32 percent very poor, 30 percent poor, 24 percent fair, and 14 percent good.

Soybean growers kept on scouting for larvae pests with controls being applied in scattered areas. Beans were looking good in coastal areas with pods filling out in most of the crop. Conditions were 14 percent very poor, 24 percent poor, 37 percent fair, 24 percent good, and 1 percent excellent.

Sweet potatoes were 5 percent very poor, 5 percent poor, 45 percent fair, and 45 percent good.

Tobacco harvest was beginning to wind down in some areas, but there still was a lot of leaf remaining in many fields. Conditions were 1 percent very poor, 11 percent poor, 46 percent fair, 36 percent good, and 6 percent excellent.

Hay shortages continued particularly in the northern counties. Livestock were still enjoying cooler than normal weather for this time of year. Although recent August temperatures have been cooler, pastures have been very much in need of rainfall that the Upstate has not been getting.

Apple and peach picking were ongoing. Vegetable harvest was nearly complete for summer vegetable crops.


Dry conditions persisted throughout the Commonwealth. Corn and soybean conditions worsened. Days suitable for field work were 6.9.

Late planted soybeans are in danger of not making decent yields without rain. Some of the soybean crop is dropping flowers prematurely. In at least one county, soybean producers expect a 40 percent decrease in yield when compared to last year.

The drought-like conditions have cattlemen downsizing beef herds.

Vegetable and tobacco growers have been irrigating heavily. In some places, the irrigation water has been exhausted.

Other farming activities included harvesting corn silage, feeding livestock, picking tomatoes, and preparing fields for strawberry plantings.


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


CLARKE (Jake Grove) “Continued dry weather is starting to hurt pastures and later planted crops.”

FAUQUIER (Tim Mize) “Dry conditions continue throughout the county. Late season soybeans are in danger. Cutting of corn for silage is well under way. Pasture conditions continue to deteriorate. Late dry weather has helped vineyards and orchards.”

FREDERICK (Michael Clem) “Early apple varieties are being harvested. Frederick County had zero inches of rainfall this week.”


AUGUSTA (Brian Jones) “Dry weather continues to grip the southern and eastern portions of the county. Corn that was planted early is nearing silage maturity. Silage harvest has already begun on many farms. Late corn is really suffering in the dry areas of the county. Rain at this point will probably not help any of the corn in the area. Pastures and hay fields are also desperate for rain, and many farmers have been feeding hay for two weeks already.”


ACCOMACK (Jim Belote) “The lack of rain is beginning to affect the soybean crop. Storms predicted for next few days. If they are widespread and of an inch or more immediate threat to soybean crop will be alleviated, but timely and significant rains will still be needed. Corn crop is about done. Early corn harvest should start in a week or so. Yields will be off significantly in some areas due to lack of rain, but close to average in areas where thunderstorms hit. The price of inputs is of great concern for fall and next year's crops. Some farmers are not contracting and being very cautious because they cannot price inputs for next crops. Tomato harvest is still going on. Farmers are scouting soybean fields and finding worms like the corn earworm, but at threshold levels below the need to spray so far. If dry weather continues it could be a major problem.”

ESSEX (Keith Balderson) “Lack of widespread rains is taking a toll on soybean yield potential, pasture and hay production. The soybean crop is in a critical stage right now, and rain is needed very soon to avoid very significant yield loss. Producers spent the week scouting soybeans for corn earworm, attending field days, and getting equipment ready for harvest. Earworm pressure has been spotty with some acreage being treated as economic thresholds were reached. Some early corn was harvested during the week with yields of 70 to 140 bushels per acre reported.”


GRAYSON (Kevin Spurlin) “Pastures that were improving a month ago are gone. Hay is being fed and with last year's hay shortage, beef herds have already started downsizing. The prolonged drought is again creating water shortage concerns as springs are failing. Corn will start entering the silo this week barring substantial rain.”

TAZEWELL (John Blankenship) “The county is relying on scattered thunderstorms for moisture. The second cutting of hay is very short with many weeds due to dry conditions.”


APPOMATTOX (Bruce Jones) “Dry conditions continue in Appomattox County. Corn silage harvest continues at a rapid pace due to lower than usual yields. Corn is drying down rapidly. Early planted soybeans are dropping leaves and the first harvest may take place this week. Dark tobacco still looks good but mainly due to irrigation. Water is becoming an issue for some cattle producers. Producers now pricing winter feed are becoming very concerned and many are downsizing their herds to match hay and feed on hand.”

CAROLINE (McGann Saphir) “Moisture conditions have been critical for soybeans for a couple of weeks. We have had no rain in that time. Plants are under major stress and are dropping their flowers without forming pods. Continued dry weather will mean major loss of yield, which is already down an estimated 40 percent. Hayfields and pastures are dormant and have browned out. Livestock farmers are feeding first cutting of hay and green chop silage. Vegetable farmers are irrigating heavily and harvesting melons, eggplant, blackberries, and tomatoes. Strawberry producers are laying down plastic and preparing to plant next season's crop. Fall pumpkins and winter squash are maturing — mostly under irrigation.

NELSON (Michael Lachance) “Severe drought conditions are setting in. Cattle are beginning to be fed with hay. The County is seeking drought declaration.”

SPOTSYLVANIA (John Howe) “Corn silage harvest is under way and some hay is being cut and harvested. Very dry conditions. No material rainfall for the month of August. Soybean production is in doubt due to the dry conditions.”


CHARLOTTE (Bob Jones) “Charlotte County has adopted a resolution requesting a drought/disaster designation at the request of the Extension Service.”

MECKLENBURG (Taylor Clarke) “Moisture conditions have worsened rapidly since the beginning of August. The tobacco crop is in need of moisture to improve curing conditions and mature later plantings. Crop progress remains two to three weeks behind normal. Producers are exhausting or have exhausted their irrigation water. Soybeans are in dire need of moisture to salvage some yield. With no prospects of moisture in the forecast, soybean yields will most likely be well below last year. Corn silage is drying down faster than harvest is progressing.”

PRINCE GEORGE (Scott Reiter) “Rain is the discussion topic everywhere you go. A localized thunderstorm dropped 2 inches of rain in a small area last Friday, but crops are showing stress again this week. Soybean growers are starting to look for corn earworm and the first ones have been found this week. Beef producers have been feeding hay regularly since July.”

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