Heat, dry weather stress upper Southeast crops

The Virginia corn crop has reached the stage where it’s suffering badly from dry weather. Without timely showers, growers worry that corn yield will be poor. However, the soybean crop still has time to recover from the lack of rain, especially the double-crop beans.

South Carolina received spotty showers this past week, bringing limited short-term relief to much of the area.

In North Carolina there have been reports of heat stress to corn and pastures.

Here’s how the state USDA/NASS field offices reported the overall situation for the week ended July 20.

North Carolina

North Carolina received between 0 and 6.64 inches of rain throughout the week. Lincolnton and Marshall reported no rain for the week, while the most was recorded in Wilmington due to tropical storm Cristobal. Average temperatures ranged from 66 to 80 degrees. The Mountain Region did not receive as much rain as the rest of the state and there are some reports of heat stress to pastures and the corn crop.

There were 6.3 days suitable for field work, compared to 4.8 from the previous week.

Statewide soil moisture levels are rated at 19 percent very short, 40 percent short, 41 percent adequate and zero percent surplus.

Activities during the week included the planting of sorghum, harvesting hay, Irish potatoes, peaches and preparing for tobacco harvest, and scouting for pest and disease problems.

South Carolina

This past week, South Carolina received spotted showers bringing limited short-term relief to much of the area. Precipitation totals were minimal across the state, but a few areas received an inch or more of rain. Myrtle Beach, Charleston and Savannah, Ga., received most of the rains from Tropical Storm Cristobal.

Average soil moisture ratings were 30 percent very short, 39 percent short, 30 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus. There was a statewide average of 6.3 days that were suitable for field work.

It is too late for most corn, across the state, but continued rain may help late planted fields yield a fair crop. Conditions were diminished some, and were reported as 52 percent very poor, 20 percent poor, 23 percent fair, and 5 percent good.

Spotted showers brought limited short-term relief for cotton as time for recovery shortened due to advanced blooming. Conditions were 8 percent very poor, 23 percent poor, 39 percent fair, 29 percent good, and 1 percent excellent.

Again this past week, peanut conditions continued to see improvement. Conditions were 4 percent very poor, 9 percent poor, 33 percent fair, 51 percent good, and 3 percent excellent.

Soybean condition improved considerably from just a couple of weeks ago. Conditions were 22 percent very poor, 23 percent poor, 35 percent fair, 19 percent good, and 1 percent excellent.

Sweet potatoes were 10 percent very poor, 15 percent poor, 50 percent fair, and 25 percent good.

Tobacco was 89 percent topped and 16 percent of the crop has been harvested thus far. Conditions were 2 percent very poor, 8 percent poor, 41 percent fair, 44 percent good, and 5 percent excellent.

Livestock, in general, are suffering from extremely low soil moisture. Any rains received have quickly evaporated. Follow up rains are needed to help reduce the stress caused by the drought, and extremely high temperatures. Pastures were showing slight declines across the Palmetto state.

Peach conditions improved more this past week. The peach harvest was 55 percent complete.

Vegetable harvests were winding down for cucumbers, and tomatoes. The salmonella scare has destroyed the tomato market and local growers have abandoned their crop.


Most of Virginia continued to suffer from dry conditions. Some parts of the state received isolated showers. However, there was not enough rain to significantly improve crop conditions. Days suitable for fieldwork were 6.5.

Corn is at the development stage where it suffered most from the dry conditions. Without timely showers, farmers worry that the corn yield will be poor.

The soybean crop still has time to recover from the lack of rain, especially the double-crop beans.

Virginia’s Ginger Gold apples were being harvested. The majority of the apples were in good to excellent condition.

Some hayfields in southwestern Virginia were in better condition due to the recent rain and cooler temperatures. However, in other parts of the state, hay fields were being used as pasture. Due to the dry conditions, some farmers abandoned attempts for a second cutting of hay.

Other farming activities included harvesting tomatoes, peppers, and sweet corn, applying fertilizers, and managing you-pick operations.


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


SHENANDOAH (Bobby Clark) “Half our wheat crop was harvested over the past 7-10 days. We should be finished by the end of this week.”


ACCOMACK (Jim Belote) “It has been very dry. Many areas have entered the drought stage. Corn is at critical stages of pollination and grain fill. Rain needed this week or corn could be hurt bad. Most soybeans are double-cropped so there still is time. Farmers are actively scouting soybeans. Tomato and potato harvest is in full swing. Fertilizers, such as potash, were still being applied to soybeans. Price of this product has gone not only through the roof but beyond it. Farmers will need an excellent yield if they are to recoup high costs of inputs. The drought is making many farmers nervous. Wheat yield was above average. Harvest was late for some fields and as a result some fields will not be planted to soybeans.”

MIDDLESEX (David Moore) “Lack of rain and high temperatures have decreased crop potential and quality in the past week. Early corn ears are not filled to the end. Mid-season and late-season corn is in need of rain immediately in order to make even a half of a crop. Another week without rain and corn will be significantly hurt. Most beans can wait a little longer but early beans are trying to bloom now and would benefit from shower activity. Some haymaking activity going on. Producers are making post herbicide and nutritional applications to double-crop soybeans. Producers and agribusinesses are gathering information from the recent corn earworm surveys and blacklight catches to better prepare for insect activity in soybeans. Vegetables look good but need rain. Sweet corn, tomato, and pepper harvests are in full swing with cantaloupes and watermelons not far off.”


GRAYSON (Kevin Spurlin) “Cool nighttime temperatures and the previous week's rain have led to a noticeable green-up. Corn has started to tassel, but no ears are appearing yet.

MONTGOMERY (Barry Robinson) “All crops are in need of rain. Peaches and summer apple harvests are good. Hayfields and pastures are suffering and in need of moisture.

SCOTT (Scott Jerrell) “Light showers have improved pasture and hay lands considerably. However, not enough rain has fallen to improve deep ground moisture. Vegetable producers are seeing a good year of harvests. Tobacco streak virus was found in one tobacco field. Hornworms and budworms have continued to be a problem, with damage being moderate to severe in most fields. A high population of sphinx moths has been noted, indicating a second wave of hornworms may be coming.”

TAZEWELL (John Blankenship) “We had scattered afternoon thunder showers last week. This helped the topsoil in places but still dry 6 inches deep into the soil. Small streams are drying up due to the water table being so low from last year. Apple crop is looking much better this year. Second cutting of hay is a little slow getting ready to cut.”


VIRGINIA BEACH (Cal Schiemann) “Yield potential was reduced 30 percent to 50 percent for early planted corn that silked during the hot dry weather before July 5. Several fields of sweet corn were disked under before harvest due to poor pollination. Six inches of rain since July 5 has improved the corn, soybean and vegetable outlook. Soybeans have responded well to the moisture, but plant populations in many fields were reduced by poor germination in very dry soil.”


ROANOKE (Sheri Dorn) “Temperatures typical of average temps for this time period. Rainfall for the week was 0.28 inches.”


AMHERST (William Seay) “Dry conditions have returned. Earlier spotty rains greened pastures but continued heat and drying winds have depleted the ground moisture once again. The prospect of a second cutting of hay looks bleak at this time. Some producers have turned livestock into hayfields to give the pastures a rest.”

CAROLINE (McGann Saphir) “Rains have been very spotty over the last two weeks. The corn crop in most of the county is in critical need of rain. Pastures and hay fields are beginning to brown out. Producers are scouting corn for insect problems and finishing up herbicide applications on soybeans.”

NELSON (Michael Lachance) “Ginger Gold apples were being harvested.”

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