Crops in Florida, Georgia and Alabama continued gradual improvement during the past week as the area received additional moisture from scattered rain showers.

However, areas of the upper Southeast slipped deeper into drought conditions as the season progressed.

The 2007 corn crop is mostly made as general harvest is just around the corner. Meanwhile, tobacco harvest is under way in some areas.

Here’s a full rundown of the crop situation in the Southeast for the week ending July 29 as reported by the state USDA NASS field offices.

Alabama

Localized areas of heavy rainfall reduced the northwestern edge of Alabama’s exceptional drought conditions.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the amount of Alabama land categorized as still suffering from exceptional drought conditions was reduced by 6.6 percent during the past week to 17.7 percent.

Most crops began to show a little promise, as spotty rain showers continued to fall for another week.

Temperatures for the past week varied from a few degrees below to a few degrees above normal. Daytime highs ranged from 88 degrees in Bridgeport to 96 degrees in Belle Mina. Overnight lows dipped down to 61 degrees in Belle Mina and Bridgeport.

Rainfall was scattered during the past week. Several areas in the Wiregrass region did not receive any rain, while Gadsden saw an accumulation of 2.79 inches over a 2 day period. Thorsby and Tuscaloosa have surpassed the 21-inch deficit mark in total year-to-date precipitation received.

The majority of the state’s corn crop remained in very poor or poor condition, and was not expected to show any major improvements as most had already been characterized as a disaster. Nearly 85 percent of what remained had reached the dough stage, with a good portion also in the dent stage.

The state’s soybeans showed signs of improvement, as 42 percent were rated in fair to excellent condition compared with only 39 percent a week ago.

The recent rain showers helped improve cotton conditions in fields that already had acceptable stands present.

Late-planted cotton did not benefit as much. William C. Birdsong, Extension agronomist at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center, stated that producers were busy applying growth regulators, insecticides, and herbicides to the older cotton, and nitrogen to the double-cropped cotton.

Buford Kimbrel, an area cotton consultant, reported seeing a low level of immature stink bugs in gardens, but not in any cotton fields so far.

Jon Stuckey, another area cotton consultant, indicated finding a few bollworms and stink bugs in a couple of fields.

Growers were encouraged to scout heavily for insects, as now is the time when boll-fill occurs.

Alabama’s peanut crop continued to show signs of improvement during the past week. Kris Balkcom, peanut specialist at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center, noted that the older peanut stands had reached their peak water demand. Most producers regained control of the weed problem in their fields, and were also on a good fungicide schedule.

Produce growers in the Tennessee Valley faced a host of challenges as the heat and humidity returned to the area. Doug Chapman, regional Extension agent and commercial horticulturist, reported that disease, insect and weed pressure increased, but the local markets continued to experience brisk sales.

Chip East, regional Extension agent and commercial horticulturist, indicated that weather conditions in eastern Alabama were still dry, but market conditions remained favorable for producers. A lack of irrigation coupled with tomato spotted wilt virus caused problems for many growers.

With consistent rainfall over the past few weeks, pasture conditions continued to recover. Chuck Browne, Lee County Extension agent, mentioned that some hay was cut and baled, but yields were approximately half of normal.

John S. Pulliam, Macon County Extension agent, added that producers in the county expected to harvest a cutting and a half of hay from their hayfields. A larger section of Alabama’s livestock was rated in fair to good condition during the past week.

Georgia

The State experienced scattered rains this past week, but dry conditions still prevail, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office.

While rainfall for the state averaged 1.15 inches, the amounts reported for each station were widely varied. Some stations received only a few tenths of an inch, while others received well over two inches.

Highs remained lower than normal for this time of year and averaged from the upper 80s to the lower 90s.

Soil moisture conditions were rated at 12 percent very short, 37 percent short, 49 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus.

Scattered showers and cooler temperatures have helped improve soil moisture and crop quality.

Crops were in mostly fair to good condition despite the extremely dry weather they have been through.

Chances improved for getting two cuttings of hay. Farmers expected their second cutting of hay to be better quality than the first.

Weed pressure remained high. There has been an increase in pigweed resistance to herbicides in peanuts and cotton. Some worms have shown up in pastures.

Other activities included pasture and hayfield fertilization, weed control, preparing hay equipment, scouting for insects, irrigating crops, and feeding hay to cattle.

County Extension agents reported an average of 5.9 days suitable for fieldwork.

Florida

Widespread rains during the week of July 23-29 boosted the growth of pastures in most areas.

Rainfall ranged from traces in Citra to about 4.5 inches in Ft. Pierce. Pensacola recorded over four inches while Ft. Lauderdale, Marianna, and Monticello reported less than two tenths of an inch for the week. Carrabelle, West Palm Beach, and Jacksonville reported around three inches; Alachua, nearly two and two thirds; and Jay, over two inches. Most other areas received from about a half inch to over an inch. In Jefferson County, some violent afternoon thunderstorms with high winds and lightning caused tree damage over much of the northern localities.

Temperatures at the major stations averaged nearly normal for the week. Daytime highs were in the 80s and 90s while nighttime lows were in the 60s and 70s. Tallahassee reported at least one daytime high at 101.

Peanut condition was rated 1 percent very poor, 4 percent poor, 40 percent fair, 40 percent good, and 15 percent excellent. In Suwannee County, peanuts are growing well, although weeds are causing problems for some growers, while dryland peanuts are looking very good.

In Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, hay growth is starting to pick up and cotton and peanuts look fair to good. The dry weather during the planting season resulted in some poor peanut stands. Peanut quality is expected to be better than last year; while corn planted early suffered from dry weather. Late plantings should do well.

In Jackson County, weeds are causing problems in peanut and cotton fields; the condition of peanuts and cotton is improving; some dryland acreage needs moisture.

In Jefferson County, hay fields are recovering although some acreage shows permanent drought damage.

The pecan crop is in fair to good condition with the June and July nut drop not as severe as it appeared earlier in the season.

Soil moisture was rated mostly adequate in most central and southern Peninsula counties, but varied from very short to adequate over the Panhandle and northern Peninsula.

Marion, Osceola, St. Lucie, and Hendry reported spots with surplus soil moisture. Jackson, Calhoun, Leon, Jefferson, Hamilton, Suwannee, and Martin counties reported some areas with very short soil moisture.

Growers plowed land in preparation of fall vegetable crop planting in some central and southern Peninsula localities.

Producers in the Quincy growing area have laid most plastic for fall crop tomatoes and expect to start transplanting within the next two weeks. Okra harvesting remained active in Dade County.

Tennessee

The State experienced mostly warm and humid weather this past week, but scattered thunderstorms provided much needed moisture to crops and pastures.

Some areas, especially in east Tennessee, received ample amounts of rainfall, while a few locations in the west missed the rain altogether.

Although the rain was welcomed, more will be needed in major producing areas for crops to reach their full potential. As of Sunday, July 29, over three-fourths of the corn acreage had reached the dough stage, on pace with the 5-year average. Also, corn silage harvest got under way this past week.

The soybean and cotton crops remained in mostly fair-to-good condition with development nearly a week ahead of the five-year average.

The state's tobacco crop also continued to be rated in mostly fair-to-good condition with almost one-third topped. Pastures and hay fields improved slightly over the previous week. Some livestock producers continued to feed hay.

There were 6 days considered suitable for field work this past week.

Topsoil moisture levels were rated 31 percent very short, 42 percent short, and 27 percent adequate. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 48 percent very short, 36 percent short, and 16 percent adequate.

Temperatures averaged slightly below to normal last week, while rainfall was below normal for West Tennessee but above normal elsewhere.

County Agent Comments

"Some parts of county are receiving summer showers, but not helping enough. Pastures are dry and cattle producers continued to sell calves earlier than normal. Corn and soybean crops are hurting drastically. Soybeans are blooming but not setting pods due to dry weather. Some soybean fields will be cut for hay." Steve Glass, Decatur County

"Dry weather continues. Pastures are brown, corn is drying down, and soybeans behind wheat are just sitting there. Producers are making fungicide applications to full-season soybeans that have good yield potential. Hay producers are harvesting a light second cutting in some field locations. Rain is needed." Jeff Lannom, Weakley County

"The past week Macon County did receive some much needed rain. Some of the pastures have greened up. Blue mold was discovered on burley tobacco in the northern part of Macon County." Steve Walker, Macon County

"Thundershowers were a welcome sight this week and helped to improve row-crops, pasture and hay. Still, more is needed! Some farm ponds are getting critically low and concern is growing over these and other water sources for livestock." John Wilson, Marion County

"Moisture has given much relief to crop conditions in the area. Burley tobacco has been growing exponentially.

Livestock pastures have improved, but winter feed supply is still a major concern." Anthony Shelton, Washington County

South Carolina

Dry conditions prevailed across most of South Carolina, causing most of the state’s crop conditions to drop from the preceding week.

Soil moisture ratings across the state declined to 21 percent very short, 57 percent short, and 22 percent adequate. There was an average of 6.3 days suitable for field work.

The corn crop has been mostly made. It doesn’t look like average yields are going to be close to last year’s, as rains have been too sporadic. The conditions for the week were 5 percent very poor, 21 percent poor, 45 percent fair, 26 percent good, and 3 percent excellent.

Cotton growers were still applying controls for stinkbugs, and larvae pests. Conditions were 1 percent very poor, 10 percent poor, 45 percent fair, 42 percent good, and 2 percent excellent.

Peanut growers were scouting their fields for earworms, and preparing to treat soils for white mold. Most of the crop has pegged, and the condition was mostly fair to good.

There has been some cause for concern, as soybeans continued to bloom, and rain has been needed for the crop. The crop was rated from poor to good.

Tobacco harvest was in full swing. Diseases were showing up in some areas. Some fields were reported in good condition, while others were poor with little weight.

Conditions were 6 percent poor, 42 percent fair, 38 percent good, and 14 percent excellent.

Pasture, hay and livestock conditions all deteriorated this past week. The situation remained dry in many areas of the upstate. Livestock were still being fed hay. If the drought continues, many farmers will be short of hay for the winter. Several cattlemen were weaning, and heavily culling their calves.

Later variety peaches were coming in, but harvest remained very light at best. The crop has been in very poor condition. Apples were still in very poor to fair condition.

North Carolina

Some areas of North Carolina experienced significant amounts of rainfall this week, while other areas received little or no precipitation.

There were 5.7 days suitable for field work compared to 6 days from the previous week. Statewide, soil moisture levels are rated at 22 percent very short, 36 percent short, 38 percent adequate, and 4 percent surplus. Activities during the week included harvesting peaches, hay, and flue-cured tobacco, as well as scouting for pest and disease problems.

Virginia

The Commonwealth endured hot and dry conditions again last week with some areas receiving relief in the form of showers. Days suitable for work were 5.7. Topsoil moisture was short.

Pasture conditions are gradually worsening with browning and overgrazing being reported. Livestock produces are still supplementing pastures with hay.

Corn continues to twist and show signs of moisture stress in some areas, while in other areas corn is thriving due to the variable storms and showers.

Early planted soybeans are beginning to flower and pod. Rains in the last couple of days have farmers optimistic about their soybean crop.

Early transplanted tobacco topping continues as late transplanted tobacco is beginning to show appreciable growth.

Vegetable producers are irrigating heavily and harvesting summer squash, tomatoes, peppers, and cantaloupes. Other activities included post-emergence herbicide spraying, insecticide spraying, and preparing harvesting equipment for the fall.