Weather delays Southeast crop progress

Severe to moderate drought conditions have developed across Georgia, according to the USDA, NASS, state Field Office. Highs averaged in the 70s most of the week ending April 22. Average lows ranged from the lower 40s to the lower 50s.

The state experienced very windy conditions the first part of the week. During the mid-week some areas in the southwest received light rain, otherwise the state remained dry. Soil moisture conditions were rated at 21 percent very short, 40 percent short, 37 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus.

Results of the Easter freeze were still being evaluated, but fruits were severely damaged by the freeze with a majority of the crops lost. Peaches, pecans and blueberries were hit hard. The majority of the corn crop did survive, but some replanting was completed last week.

Growth has been slow for pastures, hayfields, turf and sod were burnt back by the freeze. Wheat, rye and other small grains also received freeze damage.

Most crops were still suffering from lingering drought conditions, and may bounce back with significant rainfall. Farmers were irrigating soil in order to plant crops.

Other activities included the routine care of poultry and livestock, preparing land for planting and feeding hay when available. County Extension agents reported an average of 6.0 days suitable for fieldwork.


A severe lack of rainfall continues to be a major concern in Alabama, as some producers have started their crop season with more than a 13 inch deficit in the year-to-date rainfall total.

Many producers have postponed planting crops such as cotton and peanuts until some precipitation is received to boost soil moisture conditions.

Very little rainfall was received at reporting weather stations during the week ending April 22. Totals varied from 0.01 inches to 0.36 inches.

Average temperatures were below normal for the second week, with Hamilton recording the week’s high of 83 degrees and the week’s low of 28 degrees. Brewton is still the only weather station that has a positive year-to-date precipitation total.

Gadsden is approaching a shortfall of nearly 14 inches, while areas around Alabaster, Tuscaloosa and Livingston have surpassed the 13 inch deficit mark.

Charles Burmester, Extension agronomist in northern Alabama indicated wheat in the boot stage suffered less damage during the Easter freeze than wheat that was already headed. However, there has been some damage discovered on these plant stems which could potentially affect yields.

J. Heath Potter, Lawrence County Extension agent added that approximately 80 percent of the wheat in the county is a total loss, while the rest will have a reduced yield. Some farmers plan to use the wheat as a cover crop for either soybeans or cotton. Other producers may graze livestock in their fields, or cut the crop for hay. Nitrate toxicity could be a problem, so growers are advised to take a sample of wheat in for testing.

Corn replanting is fairly widespread, but locating corn seed has become somewhat of a problem.

Producers who had not applied atrazine to their fields are considering moving to a soybean or cotton crop.

Frankie Shaw in the Cherokee County FSA office noted that some farmers have chosen to take their current crop to harvest.

Donald Mann in the Jackson County FSA office stated that approximately 75 percent of the corn that had emerged has to be replanted.

Burmester mentioned that very little cotton acreage in northern Alabama has been planted due to the cold weather and soil temperatures. Many farmers will begin planting this week as warmer temperatures are forecast for the region.

Producers in Covington County are reported to be preparing land for cotton and peanut planting.

As orchard growers continue to assess the freeze damage that occurred at the beginning of the month, insect and disease pressures are still a concern in the peach crop. Bobby Boozer, research horticulturist at the Chilton Research and Extension Center reported that as long as a food source remains that will support a pest’s life cycle, insects will multiply and control measures need to be used.

If marketable fruit are expected, a near normal IPM should be used.

The potential for peach scab is increasing due to more frequent rains and warmer temperatures. Producers will be applying products such as Captan 50W mixed with sulfur as a preventative measure.

Shaw noted that little to no damage occurred to the tomato crop in St. Clair County because very few fields had been planted.

Doug Chapman, Regional Extension agent reported that vegetable growers are in need or rain.

Most of Alabama pastures range from poor to good condition. James D. Jones, Jr., Henry County Extension agent stated that cool temperatures have hampered pasture growth, leaving ranchers very little grass to graze cattle and other livestock.

Mann added the pastures and hay fields in Jackson County are suffering from the dry weather. The majority of the state’s livestock remain in fair to good condition.

T.H. Gregg mentioned that cattle in Etowah County are beginning to look better.


Cool temperatures slowed plant germination and growth in Florida during the week of April 16-23.

Temperatures averaged two to five degrees below normal in the major cities. Daytime highs were in the 70s and 80s while nighttime lows were in the 40s, 50s and 60s. Alachua, Bronson, Santa Rosa and Quincy reported at least one low in the upper 30s.

Strong winds also buffeted most crops, statewide.

During mid- to late-week, Atlantic sea breezes brought some rain to a few inland areas of the central Peninsula. However, most Peninsula localities remain dry and the threat of wildfire remains high in most areas.

The tail end of a storm system crossing the nation dropped nearly a half-inch of rain over some Panhandle and northern Peninsula areas around mid-week. Rainfall for the week ranged from none in some southern Peninsula localities to nearly an inch in Orlando. Most central and southern Peninsula areas reported only traces of rain for the week, while some northern Peninsula and Panhandle areas recorded a quarter to over a half inch for the week.

Cool temperatures slowed the growth of corn in the Panhandle and northern Peninsula. The potential yield of small grains was reduced by earlier dry weather over the Panhandle and northern Peninsula during the stage of head development and fill.

However, the recent rains increased soil moisture with field preparations for peanut and cotton planting steady.

Soil moisture was rated mostly very short in the Panhandle, mostly short in the Big Bend and northern Peninsula, and very short to short over the central and southern Peninsula.

Cool temperatures continued to slow vegetable growth and fruit development. Strong winds continued to whip vegetables and blow sand across fields, statewide.

Processing potato harvest slowly increased around Hastings with virtually all current sales satisfying previous contracts. Other vegetables and non-citrus fruit marketed during the week included snap beans, blueberries, cabbage, cantaloupes, celery, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, escarole, greens, lettuce, okra, parsley, peppers, radishes, squash, strawberries, tomatoes, and watermelons.

North Carolina

For the third week in a row, below average temperatures dominated North Carolina. Rainfall occurred early in the week ending April 22, with the totals ranging from 0.35 to 3.93 inches.

Conditions reported continue to show the effect of the spring freezes during the past couple of weeks.

There were 4.7 days suitable for field work during the week compared to the 4.8 days from the previous week. Statewide, soil moisture levels are rated at 9 percent short, 76 percent adequate, and 15 percent surplus.

Activities during the week included the planting of corn, sorghum, tobacco and the preparation for another spring crop plantings. Crop scouting continues to assess the freeze damage.


Last week's seasonal temperatures allowed evidence of the extreme cold weather during the week ending April 8, to become more measurable in Tennessee. Crops in most areas were damaged more than previously thought, as reflected in their condition ratings which dropped across the board.

Many wheat growers are faced with the decision to try to salvage their wheat crop for grain or cut it for hay. Others have totally lost their crop and are deciding whether to replant the lost acreage to another crop. A large number of corn acres have already been replanted with more to be completed over the next several weeks. Despite these setbacks, planting is on pace with normal progress.

Virtually all of the state's winter wheat crop was jointing with nearly half heading during the week ending April 22. Fruits and berries were reported as a total loss in many areas and significantly damaged in nearly all.

Nurseries sustained heavy losses as well, with seedling and seed crops showing the most damage.

Pasture conditions also declined from the week earlier and were rated in mostly fair to poor condition.

There were 6 days suitable for fieldwork last week. As of April 20, topsoil moisture levels were rated 3 percent very short, 29 percent short, 6 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 8 percent very short, 38 percent short, 53 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus.

Temperatures last week averaged near or slightly above normal across central and western portions of the state and slightly below normal in the east. Rainfall was below normal for the entire State last week.


The Commonwealth experienced warmer temperatures and some needed precipitation across most of the state during the week ending April 22. Days suitable for field work were 4.4. Topsoil moisture was adequate.

Producers were scouting small grains for insects and diseases. Land was being prepared for planting cotton, peanuts and soybeans.

Rain earlier in the week slowed down the corn planting, but farmers were planting tomatoes. Some producers reported late frost damage to the peach and strawberry crops.

Lambing and calving was nearing completion.

Other farm activities included attending meetings, repairing equipment and purchasing cattle.

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