Early reports from Alabama’s Tennessee Valley region are showing cotton yields ranging from 500 to 600 pounds per acre. Overall, the state’s cotton crop is running well behind last year due to late planting.

In Florida, cotton defoliation has begun on a few fields in Escambia County, but picking has not yet started. Santa Rosa County reported cotton is doing well.

Widespread defoliation of cotton is under way in Georgia, as growers prepare pickers and other harvesting equipment.

For a look at the overall crop picture in the lower Southeast, here are reports from the state USDA/NASS field offices for the week ending Sept. 21.

Alabama

More than half of Alabama continued to suffer from abnormally dry to severe hydrological drought conditions following a week of light showers across most of the state.

While just under one percent of the state was categorized as suffering from severe drought conditions, 17.2 percent was classified in a moderate drought, and 40.7 was abnormally dry, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released for Sept. 16, 2008. Comments from respondents in Montgomery, Mobile, and Covington County indicated the need for a soaking rainfall.

Temperatures cooled off in many locations around the state during the past week. Averages varied from five degrees below normal in Thomasville to one degree above normal in Thorsby and Dothan. Daytime highs ranged from 83 degrees in Russellville, Belle Mina, and Cullman and 93 degrees in Dothan. Overnight lows varied between 53 degrees in Muscle Shoals, Russellville, and Hamilton and 64 degrees in Thorsby.

All weather stations reported receiving rainfall during the past week. Total accumulations ranged from 0.01 inches in Marion Junction, Montgomery, and Troy to 1.65 inches over a four day period in Mobile. Year-to-date precipitation totals ranged from -12.67 inches below normal in Huntsville to a 7.83 inch surplus in Mobile.

The state’s corn harvest pushed forward during the past week, but lagged drastically behind last year and the five-year average.

Alabama’s cotton crop showed signs of improvement during the past week. Nearly half was reported in good to excellent condition. Producers have just begun to crank up their cotton pickers and strippers for this year’s harvest. Progress was well behind last year because wet fields delayed planting in many areas this spring.

Charles Burmester, Extension agronomist at the Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center, reported that yields on some of the early-picked cotton ranged from 400 to 500 pounds per acre.

Peanut producers in the Wiregrass region harvested a mostly good to excellent crop at a pace on schedule with the five-year average.

Farmers gained ground on their soybean harvest during the past week, but progress lingered nine percent below last year, and six percent below the five-year average. Some producers made insecticide applications to control stink bugs in late-planted fields. Charles Burmester also mentioned that producers were making desiccant applications to early-planted soybean fields because the plants were slow to dry down.

Leonard Kuykendall, regional Extension agent located in Autauga County, stated that producers spent the past week wrapping up corn harvest, defoliating cotton, and preparing fields for small grain seeding.

Pastures across most of the state continued to show slight improvements during the past week. Kenneth Kelley, regional Extension agent located in Mobile County, indicated that summer perennial pastures were beginning to taper off, and that many livestock producers started to plant annuals for grazing during the winter months. The state’s livestock remained in fair to excellent condition.

Florida

High temperatures throughout the state ranged from the 80s to low 90s. Nighttime lows were in the 60s and 70s. Significant precipitation fell on the northern part of the central Peninsula. St. Johns and Putnam counties reported 3.52 and 2.57 inches, respectively. Alachua, Volusia, and Collier counties each received just over one inch last week. All other areas recorded less than one inch.

Peanut condition was rated 29 percent fair, 55 percent good, and 16 percent excellent. Peanut digging was 14 percent complete, compared with 13 percent last year, and a five-year average progress of 19 percent. Some field work was delayed by showers early last week. Many growers reported that more rain is needed for those crops not yet harvested.

Cotton defoliation has begun on a few fields in Escambia County, but picking has not started yet. Santa Rosa County reported that cotton was doing well.

Dry conditions allowed hay to be cut in many locations throughout the state.

The soybean crop was looking good due to timely fungicide applications.

Madison County was finishing the harvest of corn.

Flagler County reported an excessive armyworm population. Topsoil moisture conditions were short to adequate, while subsoil moisture levels remained mostly adequate.

Producers in the central and southern peninsulas continued to prepare for and plant fall vegetables. Martin County reported that standing water caused some delays in field work. Heavy rainfall in St. Johns County also delayed land preparations.

Growers in southwest areas of the state have been helped by recent sunny conditions. Okra and avocadoes were marketed last week.

In the Panhandle and northern areas, pasture condition ranged from fair to excellent with most in good condition. Pasture grass was growing in most areas, but growth was slowed in many locations due to drought and cooler nighttime temperatures. Pastures were showing signs of drought stress. Pasturage in many operations were still well short of average production due to earlier drought conditions.

Cattle condition was fair to excellent with most in good condition. In the central areas, pasture was very poor to excellent with most fair to good. Some pastures were in very poor condition due to standing water from heavy rains over the weekend. Other pastures were still drying out from Tropical Storm Fay. There was some armyworm damage of forage.

Cattle condition was fair to good with most in good condition. In the southwest areas, pasture condition was very poor to excellent. Statewide, cattle condition was mostly good.

Most citrus producing areas had light rainfall on one or two days during the week. Only Ona and Immokalee had totals over one inch. The rest of the citrus region had between one-tenth and four-tenths of one inch.

Daily high temperatures reached the lower 90s in almost all areas. Apopka in the northern citrus growing region reached 95 degrees and Sebring in the central citrus growing region reached 94 degrees.

Most areas were able to conduct normal grove maintenance activity that included irrigating, spraying, mowing, pulling out old trees, and preparing for harvest. Growers were continually battling canker and greening. Scouting for diseases and removal of dead trees was occurring across the state.

Some growers have chosen to abandon groves rather than spend resources trying to keep them healthy. Trees taken care of look good with heavy foliage and healthy looking fruit. In well-cared-for groves, oranges were observed as large as baseball size and grapefruit as large as softball size. Later varieties were running slightly smaller.

Additional packinghouses opened this week; many more were planning on opening in the next few weeks.

Georgia

Dry weather has deprived crops of moisture, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office. Daily average high temperatures were in the low 80s. Average lows were in the 60s most of week. Soil moisture conditions were rated at 8 percent very short, 44 percent short, 46 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus.

Armyworms have appeared in hay fields, pastures and sorghum.

Watershed ponds have dropped significantly due to a lack of rain. The dry weather has had a negative impact on peanuts, soybeans and late planted cotton. Cool temperatures have been beneficial in slowing soil born diseases, but soil moisture has become a concern again.

Other activities included irrigating peanuts, harvesting hay and finishing up tobacco. County Extension agents reported an average of 6.4 days suitable for fieldwork.

DISTRICT COMMENTS

District 1 — Northwest

“We have missed out on any rain this week after receiving a couple of showers last week. It is drying off fairly rapidly. Noticed some watershed ponds dropping significantly this week.”

District 2 — North Central

“Many hay fields were cut this week. commercial grape harvest is continuing.”

“Armyworms showed up in hay fields and pastures this past week.”

District 3 — Northeast

“Desperate need for water again. Cooler temperatures helping, but the soil moisture will become critical soon without water.”

District 5 — Central

“We've gotten 4.64 inches of rain since Sept. 1. Yet the rains of this week bypassed us. Temperatures have cooled off significantly despite not having any rainfall.”

District 6 — East Central

“Dry weather appears to have set in again. Lack of rain is hurting peanuts, soybeans, and late planted cotton. Pastures and hay fields have slowed again. Armyworms are being found in high numbers in hay, pasture and sorghum.

District 7 — Southwest

“We are attempting to defoliate and pick our early cotton that was blown down and tangled by Tropical Storm Fay.”

District 8 — South Central

“Dry weather and disease will cause early digging of dryland peanuts. Cool weather should slow down soilborne diseases. A fair amount of cotton being defoliated. Irrigation of peanuts and final sprays. Harvesting of hay in full swing. Tobacco wrapping up. Fair yields, quality and prices.

“This past week has been good for digging peanuts, spraying cotton and harvesting peanuts. Most of the county received 1-2 inches of rainfall on Monday. The temperature is in the mid-80s, the cooler weather will slow down the peanuts and cotton!”

“Peanut and cotton harvest will be approaching full swing in 7-10 days. We need good harvest conditions to help make our yield goals.”

District 9 — Southeast

“Some crops really need rain. Peanuts, cotton, and soybeans would greatly benefit with a rain right now. There has been very little rain since Tropical Storm Fay.”