Alabama cotton growers are putting the finishing touches on the 2009 cotton harvest, with highly variable yields being reported.
On the eastern side of the Tennessee Valley yields have been running approximately two bales per acre, but on the western side a bale per acre has been more of the norm.
Reports from Escambia County, Ala., show cotton yields in excess of three bales per acre.
In Florida, cotton and peanut harvest is near completion, with good yields reported.
The state of Georgia is still on the dry side, with dryland small grains showing signs of stress from the continued lack of rainfall.
Here’s how the situation unfolded for the lower Southeast for the week ending Nov. 9 as reported by the state USDA/NASS field offices.
Alabama producers took advantage of favorable conditions during the past week, and spent the week picking cotton, digging peanuts, preparing fall seedbeds, and sowing small grains.
Average temperatures recorded varied from four degrees below to five degrees above normal. Daytime highs fluctuated from 73 degrees in Bridgeport and Opelika to 80 degrees in Livingston, Brewton, and Dothan. Overnight lows ranged from 30 degrees in Russellville, Hamilton, Anniston, and Pinson to 44 degrees in Dothan.
Rainfall was recorded at all but three official weather stations during the past week, but total accumulations differed drastically depending on location. Bridgeport, Hamilton, and Brewton all received over an inch of rain, while places near Pinson and Tuscaloosa saw only a trace.
Winter wheat planting progressed significantly during the past week, as producers hurried to take advantage of moist soil conditions. Charles Burmester, Extension agronomist at the Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center, commented that even more planting would occur once farmers finished harvesting their late soybean crops.
Producers harvested almost half of their remaining cotton acreage during the past week.
Burmester reported that cotton stands on the eastern side of the valley were yielding approximately two bales per acre compared to one bale per acre on the western side.
Olin F. Farrior, county Extension coordinator for Escambia County, stated that area farmers and ginners reported cotton yields in excess of three bales per acre.
Peanut growers were nearly finished harvesting peanuts, with only 10 percent of the acreage left to combine. Kris Balkcom, peanut specialist at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center, indicated that overall, this year’s crop was of good quality.
Olin Farrior mentioned that farmers in Escambia County frequently reported peanut yields in excess of two tons per acre. On the whole, insect and disease damage was minimal in this year’s crop. Boring bugs damaged some peanut stands that were planted in heavier soil. Tomato spotted wilt virus heavily affected a few isolated locations.
Soybean producers spent a busy week harvesting their remaining acreage. Progress leapt forward 11 percent during the past week, but still lagged the previous year. Doyle Dutton, county executive director in the Lawrence County FSA office, stated that producers with good soybean stands harvested a crop that yielded between 40 and 50 bushels per acre.
Overall, summer pastures have given way to winter annuals. Livestock producers supplemented the remaining summer forages with one to two pounds of protein per day.
Kenneth Kelley, Regional Extension Agent located in Mobile County, noted that winter annuals were progressing well in most places, but needed rain.
Darrell Rankins, cattle specialist at Auburn University, commented that producers had yet to begin feeding hay, and had an ample supply available when pasture grasses become depleted. Most cattle were in good condition. This year’s herd numbers reflected the heavy culling during the previous two to three years of summer droughts.
It was mostly dry last week with showers of less than half an inch reported around the state. Daytime temperatures reached highs in the 70s to the low 80s with low temperatures in the 30s and 40s. Major cities averaged highs in the 70s and 80s with lows in the 40s, 50s, and 60s.
Peanut digging was 94 percent complete, unchanged from last year, and two percent below the five year average progress of 96 percent. Peanut and cotton harvest was near completion in many counties with good yields reported.
Early frost damaged about 500 acres of peas in Columbia County.
Hay was harvested in Calhoun and Orange counties.
Soil moisture was mostly adequate in the Panhandle and southern Peninsula but short in the Big Bend and central Peninsula.
Planting and harvesting of vegetables continued, with a good harvest of cucumbers in Fort Pierce. Florida City began snap bean harvest and tomatoes continued in Gadsden County. Immokalee reported a light harvest on squash and cucumbers. Cabbage and broccoli were planted in the St. Johns, Putnam, and Flagler counties.
Farmers irrigated strawberry plants in Plant City. Other vegetables marketed were sweet corn, eggplant, okra, and peppers.
In the Panhandle and northern areas, pasture condition was very poor to good with most in fair condition. The poor condition was due to frost and drought.
In Jefferson County, most winter grazing of small grains, ryegrass, and clover was planted but needed rain. Pastures in Washington County have declined significantly due to heavy frosts last week. Winds from a cold front significantly dried up surface moisture and greatly reduced pasture productivity and also have created marginal planting conditions for cool season forages. Hay feeding has started early due to the early frost. Small grain forage planting continued in Colombia County.
Cattle condition was fair to good.
In the central areas, pastures ranged from very poor to good with most in fair condition. In Pasco County, dry, cool weather has ended warm season pasture growth.
In the southwest areas, pasture condition was very poor to excellent with most in good condition. Cool temperatures and no rain limited forage growth. Cattle condition was poor to excellent with most in good condition.
Statewide, cattle condition was fair to good.
Mild weather covered the complete citrus belt with warm afternoons and cool evenings and mornings. Rainfall was less than one-tenth of an inch in the complete growing area, causing most owners to implement regular irrigating schedules.
The quantity and quality of fruit continues to be reported good in all areas. Ratios were being reported ahead of last season on all orange varieties; grapefruit ratios were about the same.
Few caretakers are resetting groves at this time due to the availability of trees.
Grove activity included limited harvesting, herbicide application, and mowing. Scouting for greening and removal of affected trees was continuing in many areas.
Over 40 major packinghouses have opened with only a couple of large houses remaining to open. Varieties being packed included early oranges (Navels, Ambersweet, and Hamlin), white and colored grapefruit, and early tangerines (Fallglo and Sunburst).
Processing was still very limited at this time, mostly for packinghouse eliminations. About a half dozen plants were open and three more are planning to open this week.
Conditions were dry during the week, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office. Daily average high temperatures were in the low 70s most of the week. Average lows were in the 40's.
Soil moisture conditions were rated at 9 percent very short, 38 percent short, 52 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus.
Small grains planting continued. Dryland small grains were showing signs of stress from the continued lack of rain. Rain will be needed to continue planting dryland, winter grazing and fall grains.
Some producers have started to wrap up cotton harvest.
Other activities included harvesting soybeans, mowing stalks, planting small grain for grazing, irrigating crops as needed and applying fertilizer.
County Extension agents reported an average of 6.3 days suitable for fieldwork.
District 3 — Northeast
“We still desperately need rain in this area.”
District 4 — West Central
“Just a touch of rain last week, not enough. Most beans are harvested, some winter wheat and other small grains planted.”
District 5 — Central
“Warmer than average temperatures. Small grain and winter grazing planting continues. Need rain!”
“We need rainfall. We haven't had any significant rainfall in over a month.”
“Winter grazing is up and growing in some fields. Dry land starting to dry out lately. Need more rain to continue to plant.”
District 6 — East Central
“Nearly through digging peanuts, cotton is all defoliated with about one third still to be picked. Soybeans coming in about one half to two thirds finished. Little interest or "rush" to plant wheat. Will see more peanut residue left on the ground for fertilizer value and several growers are planting clover ahead on next year's cotton and corn land. Winter pasture off to a pretty good start.”
“Yields on everything looking pretty decent. Our only really big loss was all the dryland corn and dryland cotton was hurt in spots.”
District 7 — Southwest
“Hard freeze damaged late maturing bolls on late planted cotton. Remaining peanuts dug immediately after hard frost.”
District 8 — South Central
“Getting dry. Wrapping up cotton harvest. Mowing stalks. Planting small grains for grazing and applying fertilizer.”