Wheat harvest winding down in lower Southeast

Growers in the lower Southeast who were lucky enough to receive showers over the last week were busy planting double-crop soybeans behind a relatively high-yielding wheat crop that was mostly harvested.

Those not so fortunate were trying to decide whether to wait for moisture or dust the crop in.

There were also reports of worm damage to some peanut crops, with thrips and plant bugs infesting cotton.

Here’s how the USDA/NASS field offices in Alabama, Florida and Georgia reported the overall crop situation for the week ending June 22.


Producers saw a dry week across most of the state during the past week as rain showers were scattered. Nearly 17 percent of the state was drought-free, compared to 12.5 percent a week ago and none last year, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released from June 17, 2008.

Average temperatures varied from five degrees below to three degrees above normal during the past week. Daytime highs ranged from 89 degrees in Cullman, Sand Mountain, Guntersville, and Union Springs to 96 degrees in Dothan. Overnight lows fell between 51 degrees in Bridgeport and 64 degrees in Bay Minette, Headland, and Dothan.

Several weather stations remained dry during the past week, and locations that saw rainfall had accumulations that ranged between only 0.01 inches in Talladega and 0.95 inches in Headland.

Producers were busy planting double-cropped soybeans, side-dressing cotton with nitrogen, and making herbicide applications to peanuts and soybeans.

Producers were virtually finished harvesting wheat and other small grain crops. Leonard Kuykendall, regional Extension agent located in Autauga County, stated that farmers have seen the best wheat yields in many years, with averages of approximately 70 bushels per acre.

Olin F. Farrior, county Extension coordinator for Escambia County, noted that wheat harvest was nearly complete, with yields averaging between 50 and 60 bushels per acre. Some areas suffered significant disease and insect damage from rust and the Hessian fly.

Alex Brand, county executive director in the Wilcox County FSA office, added that wheat yields in the area were very good.

Several areas of the state were still extremely dry, leaving some crop stands showing signs of drought stress.

Nine percent of Alabama’s corn crop had reached the dough stage, with one percent reported in the dented stage. The majority of this year’s cotton crop remained in good or excellent condition during the past week. Phenological progress was slow compared to last year and the five-year average, as only 24 percent of the crop had started squaring compared to 28 percent in 2007 and 36 percent over the past five years.

Scattered showers during the previous week were a blessing to many peanut producers, as the majority of the crop was reported in fair condition during the past week. Kris Balkcom, peanut specialist at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center, reported that a number of fields across the peanut belt were infested with corn earworms and tobacco budworms. These insects were seen feeding on the foliage of the smallest peanut stands. Growers were encouraged to apply Karate or Mustang Max insecticides to control the bugs.

The soybeans that had already emerged and moved into the blooming stage were in mostly good or excellent condition. Leonard Kuykendall indicated double-crop soybeans were planted behind wheat in areas around Autauga County where moisture and deer weren’t a problem. Olin Farrior mentioned that Escambia County producers had planted soybeans behind their wheat crop, and the soybean stands were generally good.

Pasture conditions varied greatly depending on location, and how much rainfall was received during the past couple of weeks. Brenda Glover, regional Extension agent located in Hale County, noted that many areas around Hale County were in drought situations. Kenneth Kelly, regional Extension agent located in Mobile County, stated that pasture conditions in the area improved dramatically after the previous week’s rain. Alex Brand reported that pastures and hayfields around Wilcox County needed moisture. Livestock conditions improved as animals began to benefit from improved pastures, with most reported in good or excellent condition.


Hot and humid weather conditions continued and significant showers fell over most areas of the state during the week ending June 22.

Areas of the central and southern Peninsula received the most rain, Osceola with 4.03 inches, Polk with 3.67 inches, and Dade with 5.66 inches. The Panhandle received the least precipitation, reporting less than one inch.

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

Peanut pegging was 25 percent complete compared with 14 percent last year. Peanut condition was rated 1 percent poor, 53 percent fair, 34 percent good, and 12 percent excellent.

Wheat harvest was completed in Santa Rosa County. Growers were planting sorghum as a cover crop in Palatka. Only a handful of producers were still digging potatoes in the area last week.

Topsoil moisture was mostly short in the Panhandle and short to adequate in other areas around the state. Subsoil moisture was adequate in all regions.

Summer vegetable crop harvest continued in Florida City, but other areas reported field activity ending. Avocado, guava, okra, mango, and mamey were harvested and packed.

In Fort Pierce, cucumbers continued to be planted. Plant City reported a few fields of tomatoes left to be harvested. Harvest will be ending in the next couple of weeks. Suwannee and Jefferson counties harvested watermelon. Also in Suwannee County, zucchini, squash, eggplant, okra, and peppers were harvested. Wauchula packed watermelons but all other crops were finished for the season.

Continued rainfall in some areas this past week helped pasture conditions remain stable throughout the state. The Panhandle and northern locations reported pasture varying from poor to good with most in fair condition. Cattle were mostly fair with some in good and excellent condition. Pasture in the central district was reported as very poor to good. The condition of cattle was very poor to fair.

In the southwestern areas, pasture condition ranged from poor to good. Cattle were mostly in fair to good condition in the southwestern areas.

Statewide, cattle condition varied from poor to good.

The tropical weather has been beneficial to citrus fruit growth and tree foliage. Oranges were as large as golf ball size, while grapefruit were about two to three times as large.

Production practices were on schedule in all areas, included herbicide application, spraying, mowing, and brush removal. Some growers were combining efforts to put out aerial applications for Psyllids control.

Valencia harvest dropped below four million boxes due to lessening availability. Some processing plants plan to run Valencia oranges into the second week of July.

Grapefruit utilization was almost over with small amounts of red varieties continuing to be processed. Honey tangerine harvest was relatively over for the season.


Widely scattered showers did little to improve crop conditions during the week ending June 22, 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 30 percent very short, 45 percent short, 24 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus.

Due to dry conditions, corn producers have been unable to keep up with irrigation requirements. For some farmers, dryland soybean planting has come to a halt.

Crop, pasture and hayfield conditions have declined due to a lack of soil moisture. The watermelon and cantaloupe harvest was in full swing.


District 2 — North Central “Widely scattered showers did little to improve crop conditions this week. Rain is still needed badly. Some hay harvest this week.”

District 4 — West Central “It is dry. Corn producers cannot keep up with irrigation requirements. Dryland soybean planting has come to stop. We need a rain.”

District 5 — Central “Need rain! Wheat harvest nearing completion. Crop, pasture, and hay field conditions declining due to lack of moisture.”

District 6 — East Central “We're in a mess! Very hot and very dry. With wheat harvest being delayed due to late planting and then turning off hot and dry, we can't get in a second crop without just harrowing and dusting it in without subsoiling. Many are waiting for some moisture before planting beans and the cotton being planted has little hope due to dry soil and the calendar working against us with both crops. Corn is being watered 24/7 it seems and we have leaf scorch on a lot. The dryland corn is history. Cotton is just sitting there allowing thrips and plant bugs to run wild. Weeds are fast becoming a problem and I have two fields I'm examining for glyphosate resistance. The large basis took the "sweet" out of a very good wheat harvest and the general mood is "scared." With such high investment/operating costs, this could break some folks!”

District 7 — Southwest “Weekend rains brought relief to crops receiving 1.5 to 4.0 inches. A few areas still received no rain. Cotton and soybeans had heavy growth development in areas with good rainfall.”

District 8 — South Central “Getting some much needed thunderstorms, but still need rain county-wide. Topping and applying suckercides to tobacco. Irrigation of corn.”

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