Most cotton producers in the lower Southeast have experienced ideal harvest conditions this year, boosting expected yields over earlier estimates. Peanut growers, however, watched their yield potential drop towards the end of the season, due to heavy pressure from tomato spotted wilt virus and rain delays between digging and combining.
Rainfall during October was well below normal over most of Georgia, according to the state's agricultural statistics service. Temperatures were generally above normal to near normal during the month, as drier-than-normal weather provided excellent harvest conditions for the fall harvested crops.
Georgia's cotton production for 2005 is expected to total 2 million bales or 80,000 bales above the October forecast and 203,000 bales above the 2004 production. Harvesting conditions were good during October except for a few delays due to Tropical Storm Tammy.
Acreage for harvest, at 1,210,000 acres, remains unchanged from earlier estimates. The yield calculates to 793 pounds per harvested acre, up 31 pounds per acre from the October estimate. By the end of the first week of November, about 55 percent of the crop had been harvested.
Peanut production for Georgia is forecast at 2.10 billion pounds. This is 7 percent less than the October forecast but 16 percent more than in 2004. Yield per harvested acre is forecast at 2,800 pounds, down 200 pounds per acre from October and 180 pounds from a year ago.
Disease problems and dry conditions became more severe during the latter part of the season. By the end of October, the majority of the crop had been harvested, and overall harvesting conditions were good.
Georgia's corn yield for 2005 is expected to average 127 bushels per harvested acre, the same as earlier estimates, but three bushels per acre less than in 2004. If this yield is realized, it will be the fourth highest on record. Summer rains and irrigation have provided growers with an excellent crop. Total corn production is expected to total 29.2 million bushels from 230,000 acres harvested for grain. A production of this size would be 20 percent less than last year. Harvest was virtually complete by the end of October.
Soybean production is expected to total 4.76 million bushels, up 8 percent from October but 43 percent less than in 2004. Acreage expected for harvest is at 170,000, the same as predicted in October but 100,000 acres less than in 2004. Yields are expected to average 28 bushels per acre, up 2 bushels from October but three bushels per acre less than last year. By the end of the first week of November, about 32 percent of the crop had been harvested. The five-year average is 41 percent harvested.
Harvesting of row crops neared completion in Alabama in November as dry conditions prevailed across the state, moving slightly ahead of last year's schedule.
Cotton yield in the state was estimated at 766 pounds per acre, an increase of 44 pounds from Oct. 1 and 42 pounds above last year's final estimate. The 10-year average cotton yield is 605 pounds. Cotton harvest was reported 73 percent complete by farmers as of Nov. 6. Cotton running bales ginned totaled 322,400 compared with 355,850 bales at this time last year, down 9 percent.
Alabama's peanut yield decreased 300 pounds from October to 2,500 pounds per acre. This is 460 pounds below the record yield set in 1984. Tomato spotted wilt virus, leafspot, white mold, dry conditions and Hurricane Rita all contributed to the decrease. Peanut digging was nearing completion in November with 95 percent complete.
Corn harvest in Alabama was complete in November except for a few scattered small fields. Corn yield was forecast at 112 bushels per acre, a three-bushel decrease from October's forecast, which gives a production of 21,280,000 total bushels.
Soybean harvest was ahead of schedule in November, with growers realizing better yields than expected at 32 bushels per acre, a two-bushel increase above the October estimate. The 10-year soybean average yield is 27 bushels per acre.
During the first full week of October, scattered rains from Tropical Storm Tammy brought peanut harvesting to a halt in Suwannee County, Fla., and slowed digging in Jackson County. However, clearer weather in other Panhandle and northern Peninsula areas allowed producers to harvest cotton and peanuts at a steady pace.
During the last week of October, low temperatures plunged into the 30s and 40s in parts of northern Florida, setting new record-lows in some locations. Peanut and cotton harvesting proceeded mostly on schedule during the last week of October, as the Panhandle and northern Peninsula escaped the effects of Hurricane Wilma. As November arrived, cotton picking continued at a rapid pace and peanut digging was almost completed.
Florida's cotton yield is set at 700 pounds per acre based on the November estimate. This is an increase of 13 percent above the October forecast and 16 percent more than last year's yield. Production is expected to total 124,000 bales, up 13 percent from October's estimate and 14 percent more than last year's production. Producers expect to harvest 85,000 acres, down 2 percent from last year.
Mostly dry weather over the Panhandle during October accelerated harvesting. Late planting and the effects of earlier tropical storms delayed the defoliation of plants in Santa Rosa County. Some Florida growers were seeing excellent yields, especially in the Panhandle's Jackson County.
Florida's peanut yield estimate dropped 300 pounds per acre or 10 percent from the October forecast. Producers reported higher losses due to tomato spotted wilt virus infestations and rain delays between digging and combining. If realized, the yield will average 2,600 pounds per acre, down 7 percent from last year. Growers expect production to total 377 million pounds, up 4 percent from last year's 364 million pounds.
Growers expect to harvest a record-high 145,000 acres, up 12 percent from last year. Mostly dry weather over Florida's central and western Panhandle allowed harvesting to proceed at a rapid pace during October. Harvesting was more than 95-percent complete by Nov. 1 versus only about 35 percent complete at the beginning of October. Some northern Peninsula and eastern Panhandle harvesting slowed periodically due to abundant rains caused by tropical systems and the clash of sea breezes.