Most Georgia growers received at least some rainfall on parched crops during the week ending June 17, but their counterparts in Alabama were not so fortunate.
Florida also received much-needed moisture, while much of the upper Southeast was in better shape.
Here’s a look at the overall picture for the week as reported by the state USDA, NASS field offices
Temperatures were milder this past week and most of the state received at least some rain, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office.
Highs averaged in the 80s most of the week. Average lows were in the 60s.
Widely scattered showers again brought some relief from the drought. Topsoil moisture conditions were rated at 32 percent very short, 31 percent short, 36 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus.
Rain showers continued to benefit crops and improve crop conditions in all but the northwest corner of the state. Improvement was seen in pastures and hayfields, as well as in late-planted cotton, peanuts, and tobacco.
Overall conditions remained dry. More rain was needed, especially in northwest Georgia which has missed out on most of the recent rainfall.
Livestock producers were weaning calves early and reducing herd size due to limited feed and pasture.
The small grains harvest was finishing up. Other activities included planting millet for grazing, plowing tobacco and applying sucker control and insecticides, applying post herbicides to peanuts and cotton, and fertilizing pastures.
County Extension agents reported an average of six days suitable for fieldwork.
A week of spotty rain showers offered little relief to drought stricken Alabama. Soil moisture conditions continued to decline, with 97 percent of the land reported in very short or short condition.
Creeks and ponds had already dried up, or were at record level lows. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly 40 percent of Alabama was classified as suffering from exceptional drought conditions, compared to only 22 percent last week and none last year.
All dryland crops suffered, while even irrigated crops could have used a soaking natural rainfall.
Reporting weather stations recorded temperatures as many as six degrees above normal during the past week, with daytime highs ranging from 92 degrees in Sand Mountain to 101 degrees in several places throughout central Alabama.
Isolated areas near Hamilton, Guntersville and Alabaster received over an inch of rain, while Opelika saw 2.15 inches fall. The remainder of the state received scattered or no rainfall.
Donald Mann in the Jackson County FSA office reported that most wheat producers in the county harvested a crop that was better than anticipated.
The dryland corn crop throughout most of Alabama had failed. Spotty showers did little to alleviate the dry soil conditions, and plants were stunted or dying.
Cindy Owens in the Fayette County FSA office noted that the county’s corn crop had suffered tremendously over the past 10 days, and the majority is a failed crop.
Soybeans in most areas of the state were not growing, and were in desperate need of a soaking rain. Some soybean producers were planting seed into dry soil to be eligible for crop insurance coverage.
The state’s cotton and peanut crops continued to suffer as most producers received little or no rainfall to help lessen the effects of the drought conditions experienced so far this crop season.
Leonard Kuykendall, Autauga County Extension agent, mentioned that some post-emergence herbicide and insecticide applications were made on cotton.
The 2007 peanut crop varied in terms of progress. Peanut planting began as early as the end of April and still continued. Kris Balkcom, peanut specialist at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center, stated that some stands looked good, some were skippy, some had enough moisture to swell and rot the seed, while others had not received enough rain to germinate the seed.
Owens added that some peanut fields in Fayette County were prevented from being planted due to the dry weather, while other fields have an emerged crop with skippy stands.
Farmers who planted early and received some rain burned their peanuts back and applied the first fungicide spray.
As the hot, dry weather continued, peach orchard producers had their irrigation systems operating at full capacity. Some growers had begun to experience water recharge problems depending on their water source.
Disease pressure remained low, and growers had managed to use fewer fungicides in their management programs this year. Growers were reminded that orchards need to be monitored for fruit rot as temperatures and humidity increase.
Insect pressure increased slightly as plum curculios continued to emerge, mate and seek fruit to lay eggs in.
Bobby Boozer, research horticulturist at the Chilton Research and Extension Center, indicated that peach tree borer activity increased last week, especially in areas where some light rainfall was received, and will continue as the season progresses.
Prolonged drought conditions caused pasture conditions to deteriorate further, as 85 percent of Alabama’s pastures were reported in very poor or poor condition. The hot, dry weather has stunted the growth of hay fields and pastures, forcing many ranchers to liquidate their herds as feedstuffs are used up and feed costs are high.
Most of the state’s livestock are in very poor or poor condition. Livestock auctions have seen drastic increases in the number of animals sold compared to last year.
Another week of showers in most areas brought much needed rains during the week of June 11-17.
Rainfall totals ranged from none at Tallahassee to nearly seven inches at Fort Lauderdale. Several areas received over one inch of precipitation. Homestead and Daytona Beach received over two inches of rain for the week.
Immokalee, MacClenny, and Pierson recorded over three inches of precipitation. Miami received over five inches of rain.
Areas in the extreme southeastern Peninsula near Dade County received over eight inches of rain.
The rains helped ease the threat of wildfires active throughout the state. As of June 15, the Florida Department of Agriculture’s Division of Forestry reported 130 active fires affecting 129,074 acres.
Temperatures at the major stations hovered around normal to two degrees below normal. Daytime highs were in the upper 80s and 90s. Pleasant evening lows were in the 60s, 70s with few areas recording at least one low in the 50s.
Several crops are still being affected from the prior drought with several northern areas of the state desperately needing more rains. Some growers are irrigating field crops, but some were reluctant or unable to do so due to the high energy cost.
The drought conditions have damaged most field crops with some growers considering not replanting in the Panhandle and northern Peninsula.
Cotton and peanuts planted in late May as well as early June have not come up as expected. About 20 percent of these crops have required replanting in Panhandle areas.
Peanut condition was rated 20 percent very poor, 40 percent poor, 35 percent fair, and five percent good.
Some cotton in Santa Rosa that is suffering will not be replanted since it is getting too late in the year.
Winter wheat harvest is virtually over, with good yields reported in Santa Rosa County.
Corn is severely hurt and unless regular rains occur very soon the late-planted corn is expected to take a major loss in Washington County.
Hay supplies are extremely short across the state. Hay producers have lost one to two cuttings of hay this year due to the lack of rainfall. The shortage of hay is not only a current concern but is also for availability of hay supplies that will be needed for this upcoming winter season.
Topsoil and subsoil moisture across the state is mostly very short to adequate. Dade County reported adequate to surplus soil moisture supplies.
Vegetable harvest is complete in most areas across the central and southern Peninsula areas. Picking increased seasonally as harvesting season for tomatoes shifted from the central areas to the northern areas. Cantaloupe harvesting is complete in Palatka.
Okra harvesting is active in Dade County.
Over 70 percent of watermelons were damaged due to a hail storm late last week in Washington County. Growers in the Panhandle as well as the central Peninsula areas continue to market watermelon supplies as the season slows.
Producers marketed cantaloupes, eggplant, okra, potatoes, tomatoes, and watermelons.
The need for rain intensified last week as a region of high pressure remained over Tennessee, causing a continuation of the hot and mainly dry weather that has gripped the state over the past month.
All weather reporting stations showed considerable year-to-date precipitation deficits, indicating moderate to severe drought conditions. This prolonged dry spell has negatively impacted crop and livestock conditions, progress on some field activities, and cattle producers' marketing decisions.
Just over a tenth of the corn crop has entered silking stage, trailing last year and the 5-year average pace.
Tobacco growers were able to set some additional plants last week despite the dry conditions.
With nearly the entire winter wheat crop ripe, harvest was in full swing, as farmers combined 40 percent of the crop last week alone. Yield reports are widely variable with some locations fairing better than expected.
The first cutting of hay neared completion, ahead of the normal schedule.
Livestock producers reiterated their concerns about hay and water shortages with pinkeye becoming a problem in a few cattle herds.
There were seven days considered suitable for fieldwork.
Topsoil moisture levels were rated 55 percent very short, 38 percent short, and 7 percent adequate. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 55 percent very short, 34 percent short, and 11 percent adequate.
Temperatures last week averaged near to slightly above normal across the entire state, while rainfall amounts averaged below normal for much of the State.
County agent comments:
"Wheat harvest got into full swing this past week. Yields are better than initially expected from freeze damage. Earliest planted wheat in the fall is yielding the worst. Reported yields are ranging from 25 to 80 bushels depending on variety and planting date. Corn is reaching the tassel and silking stages, and without rain during this critical period, it will surely have an affect on yield. Difficult to estimate how much at this time." Tim Campbell, Dyer County
"Much of our corn is in desperate need of water. If we don't get rain very soon, there will be several acres that will not be harvested. Cotton growth is at a standstill. I'm surprised that it looks as good as it does. Soybeans are not growing at all, and in several fields, there is only a 50 to 75 percent stand. Pastures have dried up. Cattle producers are feeding hay that is already in short supply." Steven Burgess, Carroll County
"Few problems have been seen in tobacco this year. First field affected with black shank seen this week. Most growers have put remaining transplanting on hold waiting for rain. Corn really started showing stress symptoms this week." Paul Hart, Robertson County
"Herd liquidation continues, due to forage shortage and lack of livestock water. Out-of-state hay purchases over $200 per ton have been reported. Corn is rolled up, cotton and soybeans barely growing at all. Several hay barn fires have continued to deplete hay supply. Producers are rolling hay from fields not normally harvested for hay." David Qualls, Lincoln County
"Newly set tobacco is dying from the lack of moisture. Pastures and hay fields are burning up, with ponds, creeks, and springs drying up. We have not had any amount of moisture since the 11th of May." Ron Johnson, Overton County
"The area received some widely scattered thunderstorms during the week; however, the results were mostly storm damage with very little moisture. Livestock producers are grazing hay fields that normally would be used for second and perhaps third cuttings." Bob Sliger, Monroe County
There were 5.9 days suitable for field work last week, unchanged from previous week. Statewide, soil moisture levels are rated at 22 percent very short, 45 percent short, 33 percent adequate, and zero percent surplus.
Activities during the week included planting sorghum, soybeans, sweet potatoes, and burley tobacco.
First cutting of hay, and harvesting of truck crops, potatoes and small grains made progress.
Scattered showers and storms were present again this past week across the state, bringing relief to some pastures and crops. Along with the moisture came hail in some areas.
Days suitable for work were 5.6. Topsoil moisture was adequate.
Pastures are beginning to show signs of recovery in areas that were previously experiencing dry conditions. Haymaking continues while strawberry harvesting winds down.
Barley harvest also continues as wheat harvest begins.
Most full-season soybeans have been planted and double-cropped soybean planting is starting.
Vegetable producers are preparing fields for tomato transplanting and clearing raised beds to begin planting second crop.
Other activities this week include spraying soybeans and corn, equipment repair, and scouting fields.