Cool, wet weather arrived in the lower Southeast last week, delaying cotton, peanut and soybean harvest, but benefiting small grain seeding and forage crops.

In Alabama, producers took advantage of beneficial rainfall and spent the week preparing fields and sowing their 2009 winter wheat crop. Heavy rain fell across much of the Florida Panhandle, with most stations reporting in excess of two inches of rainfall. In Georgia, some growers began digging late-planted peanuts because of the cool temperatures, while the weather also slowed maturation of late planted cotton.

For an overall look at the cropping situation around the area for the week ending Oct. 26, here are the reports from the USDA/NASS state field offices.

Alabama

A cold front moved through Alabama toward the end of the week, bringing with it significant rainfall for some locations. Hydrological drought conditions remained virtually unchanged during the past week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released for Oct. 21, 2008.

Temperatures cooled off dramatically, and ranged from one to as many as eight degrees below normal. Daytime highs varied between 70 degrees in Sand Mountain and 80 degrees in Geneva. Overnight lows ranged from a chilly 30 degrees in Russellville to 47 degrees in Mobile.

All weather stations reported receiving rain during the past week. Total accumulations at official weather stations varied drastically depending on location, and ranged from 0.05 of an inch in Bridgeport to 3.24 inches in Geneva. William Birdsong, agronomist at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center, added that between two and five inches of rainfall fell in the region.

Producers took advantage of beneficial rainfall, and spent the week preparing fields and sowing their 2009 winter wheat crop. Leonard Kuykendall, regional Extension agent located in Autauga County, reported that many producers in the area made seedbed preparations following the timely rainfall during the week, and were planning on planting during the upcoming week.

James D. Jones, Jr., county Extension coordinator for Henry County, mentioned that good rain showers were received to the benefit of small grain crops that were already planted.

Cotton harvest moved forward during the past week despite wet fields in many southern locales.

William Birdsong noted that the recent rainfall stopped harvest progress completely in the majority of fields around the Wiregrass area, but the abundant sunshine over the weekend had producers poised to get back into their fields soon.

The first freeze was forecast for the state during the upcoming week.

Crop maturity was expected to slow and fiber development was expected to cease following the anticipated freezing temperatures.

Peanut producers continued digging their fields, but harvest slowed on the heels of the week’s rainfall. Leonard Kuykendall added that harvest around the Autauga County area was in full swing until Thursday. Harvest progress was significantly ahead of last year, but lagged the five-year average.

Forty percent of the state’s soybean crop was reported in good to excellent condition. The leaf-dropping stage of maturity was nearly complete on this year’s entire crop. Harvest leapt forward to be on par with last year and five percentage points ahead of the five-year average.

Warm season perennial pasture grasses neared the end of their growing season. In the wake of the recent rainfall, producers continued seeding winter wheat, oats, and ryegrass for winter grazing.

Kenneth Kelly, regional Extension agent located in Mobile County, indicated that most of the winter grazing seeding during the past couple of weeks had emerged and looked pretty good.

Farmers in a few areas across the state were still harvesting their final cutting of hay from warm season grasses. As winter approached, hay supplies were adequate to surplus in most places. Some producers have hay for sale, compared to a year ago when many ranchers had to purchase hay from out of state.

Overall, the state’s livestock were reported in mostly fair to excellent condition. Henry Dorough, regional Extension agent located in Talladega County, stated that animals in the area were in good shape going into the winter months, and the amount of stored hay available was no an issue at this time.

Florida

Heavy rain fell across much of the Panhandle and south Florida last week. In the Panhandle, most stations reported rainfall in excess of two inches, while locations in the southern Peninsula reported over an inch. The remainder of the state had rainfall mostly above a half inch with scattered locations reporting larger amounts. Broward and Jackson counties had the highest reported rainfall with 3.09 and 2.79 respectively.

Daytime temperatures were in the mid-70s to the mid-80s with lows in the 40s and 50s. Major cities averaged highs in the 70s and 80s with lows in the 50s, 60s, and 70s in south Florida. Statewide temperatures averaged 1 to 3 degrees below normal.

Peanut digging was 83 percent complete, compared with 77 percent last year, and a five year average progress of 85 percent. Peanut harvest was mostly complete in many counties, but rainfall delayed the remaining harvest a few days due to wet fields.

Cotton harvest was in progress and yields were above average.

Recent rainfall benefited cool-season forage crops and feed plots planted for wildlife. Hay harvest was slowing in the northern areas of the state and with frost soon to occur, will force cattlemen to begin feeding hay.

Topsoil moisture was mostly adequate in all areas. Subsoil was mostly adequate in most areas except the southern Peninsula which had some areas reporting conditions as short and very short.

Growers continued to prepare land and plant vegetables. Cucumber and squash harvest was under way in St Johns County. Collier County reported harvesting of eggplants and specialty items. Strawberry planting was almost complete in Hillsborough County and picking of grape tomatoes had begun. Other vegetables marketed last week were okra and tomatoes.

Pasture conditions continued to seasonally decline in the Panhandle and Big Bend due to cooler temperatures. Ranchers were planting cool-season forages for winter feeding. Recent showers increased topsoil moisture, which helped germination. Some areas of Orange and Seminole counties reported low protein levels in pastures, despite their lush appearance. Wet soils were still seen in some east-central parts of the state. The west-central region remained dry. Pasture conditions declined rapidly in De Soto County. Southern locations reported that wet pastures were helped by drier weather.

With lower quality and quantity of grass, cattle were not growing quite as well as they had been in previous months. Overall, cattle were mostly in fair to good condition. Cattlemen in Washington County reported that hay supplies were limited.

Temperatures in the citrus area were average for the week preceding a cool front on Sunday morning. Lows dropped to the upper 50s in the northern citrus growing region and to the low to mid-60s elsewhere. Slow moving storms brought between one-half inch of rainfall in Lake Alfred to almost one and one-half inches in Ft. Pierce. Normal rainfall patterns and moderate temperatures over the past several weeks have been good for both the trees and fruit. The quantity and quality of fruit continues to be reported good in most areas.

Grove activity included limited harvesting, irrigating, herbicide application, and mowing. Scouting for greening and removal of affected trees was common primarily in the southern citrus growing region where the disease is the most widespread.

Almost all the major packinghouses have opened and have begun shipping fruit. About a half dozen processing plants have begun running fruit in small quantities. Varieties being packed included early oranges (Navels, Ambersweet, and Hamlin), white and colored grapefruit, and early tangerines (Fallglo and Sunburst).

Georgia

The state experienced cool temperatures and little rainfall 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 40s. Soil moisture conditions were rated at 5 percent very short, 26 percent short, 59 percent adequate, and 10 percent surplus.

Due to cool weather, some growers began digging late planted peanuts. The cool temperatures also slowed maturing of some late cotton. Some growers welcomed rain late in the week, which improved soil moisture conditions. The moisture was needed to plant winter grazing and other grains. Harvest continued for cotton and peanuts. Some growers reported good yields for cotton and peanuts.

Other activities included planting small grains and cutting and baling hay. County Extension agents reported an average of 5.2 days suitable for fieldwork.

DISTRICT COMMENTS

District 2 — North Central

“Rain late in the week improved soil moisture conditions.”

District 5 — Central

“Some welcome rain late in the week. Small grain planting continues and many hay producers trying to get their last cutting of hay harvested.”

“We have been fortunate to have cooler temperatures, yet minimum rainfall.”

“Rain came! 2.5 inches around the county. More or less. A welcome sign. Peanut, soybean and cotton harvesting continues. Late cotton slow to open. Small grains for cattle being planted. Rain brightened outlook for everyone!”

District 6 — East Central

“Good rain Friday and Saturday. Most cotton defoliated and peanuts can be finished in another 10 days after we dry out. Soybean harvest will undoubtedly be Thanksgiving or after. Yields are pretty good. Dryland cotton 550-800, dryland peanuts about 3,000 pounds per acre, irrigated yields are near 3 bale cotton, and 5,300 pounds per acre for peanuts.”

District 7 — Southwest

“Rain began on Thursday night and is expected to end Friday afternoon. As of Friday noon most of the county had received 2 inches of rainfall.”

“Moisture was needed to plant winter grazing. Peanut harvest nearly complete, cotton harvest is slightly behind schedule.”

District 8 — South Central

“Due to cool weather farmers are digging late planted peanuts. Picking peanuts that went through recent rains. Defoliating and picking cotton.”

“Cool weather has stopped cotton maturity also. Planting small grains for grain and grazing. Mowing cotton stalks and baling peanut hay.”

“Rain and wet soil is delaying peanut and cotton harvest.”

District 9 — Southeast

“Three inches of rain fell on most of the county on Friday.”