Although scattered rainfall became more frequent in the lower Southeast during August, it was a case of “too little, too late” for many growers. The year’s first yield forecast for the region showed the devastating effects of prolonged drought and extreme heat.

In Georgia, all row-crop yields are expected to be down from last year, with the exception of tobacco. Temperatures throughout the growing season have averaged well above normal, and most areas of the state have been extremely dry, with the trends continuing into early August.

Georgia’s 2006 cotton crop is forecast to average 632 pounds of lint per harvested acre or 217 pounds per acre less than last year’s record-high yield of 849 pounds per acre. As of early August, 38 percent of the state’s crop was rated very poor or poor while 35 percent was fair and 27 percent was rated good to excellent. Acreage expected to be harvested this fall is estimated at 1,330,000 acres, up 120,000 acres from last year. Production is estimated at 1,750,000 bales, 18 percent less than last year’s 2,140,000 bales.

Peanut production in Georgia for 2006 is forecast at 1.44 billion pounds compared to last year’s 2.15 billion pounds. Harvested acres are expected to be 575,000 compared to 750,000 in 2005.

Yields across Georgia’s peanut belt are expected to average 2,500 pounds per acre compared to 2,870 pounds last year. If realized, the yield of 2,500 pounds per acre would be the lowest since 1995. The state’s peanut crop also has suffered from drought conditions. As of early August, the crop was rated 2-percent excellent, 30-percent good, 38-percent fair and 30-percent poor to very poor.

Georgia’s corn yield for 2006 is expected to average 102 bushels per harvested acre or 27 bushels per-acre less than last year’s yield of 129 bushels per acre. If this yield is realized, it will be the lowest since 1998.

Above-normal summertime temperatures and dry weather has taken its toll on the corn crop, as Georgia’s total corn production is expected to total 24.5 million bushels from 240,000 acres harvested for grain. Production of this size would be 17 percent less than last year. Weather conditions in the spring allowed planting to get a good start. As of early August, 8 percent of the crop had been harvested.

Soybean yields in Georgia are forecast at 25 bushels per harvested acre. If this yield is realized, it will be the lowest since 2002. Production is forecast at 3.75 million bushels, down from the 4.55 million bushels last year. Planted acres are set at 160,000 acres while harvested acres are estimated to be 150,000 acres. This compares to 180,000 acres planted and 175,000 acres harvested in 2005. Final soybean yield and production will depend heavily on September weather conditions.

Tobacco yields for 2006 are expected to average 2,100 pounds per acre or 365 pounds more than last year’s yield of 1,735 pounds per acre. Some tobacco has quality problems, with fields being damaged by tomato spotted wilt virus. As of early August, the crop was rated 5-percent very poor, 27-percent poor, 41-percent fair, 24-percent good and 3-percent excellent. Acreage harvested is expected to be 18,000 acres or 2,000 acres more than last year. This puts potential production at 37.8 million pounds for the year 2006 or 36 percent more than in 2005.

Hay production is expected to total 1.38 million tons or 16 percent less than last year. Potential yields are forecast at 2.30 tons per acre compared to 3 tons in 2005. Up to this point, it has been a poor crop due to hot and dry conditions. Acreage cut for hay totals 600,000 acres, up 50,000 acres from last year.

e-mail: phollis@farmpress.com