Dry conditions prevailed across Kentucky and Tennessee last week allowing for harvest operations to continue, but winds from remnants of Hurricane Ike reportedly did major crop damage.
In Kentucky, growers reported entire corn fields flat on the ground because of the wind. There were also reports of damage to tobacco barns and the standing crop.
In Tennessee, the extent of damage to crops and livestock is unknown, although numerous trees and power lines were knocked down by the winds.
For an overall assessment of the agricultural situation in the two states here are the reports from the USDA/NASS field offices for the week ending Sept. 14.
Dry weather continues as below normal rainfall was received in the state for the fifth time in six weeks. Remnants of Hurricane Ike affected the state late in the period; but it was wind, not rain, that made its’ impact. Near hurricane force gusts were felt Sunday across the state.
Topsoil moisture was rated as 44 percent very short, 34 percent short and 22 percent adequate. Subsoil moisture was rated 41 percent very short, 40 percent short and 19 percent adequate. There were six days suitable for fieldwork.
Main farm activities for the week were cutting tobacco, harvesting corn and other general farm work.
Grain and silage harvest continued, but remained behind normal. By Sept. 14, 12 percent of the corn had been harvested. Last year it was 48 percent and 29 percent for the average. Some producers are reporting entire corn fields are flat on the ground because of the wind damage. At 74 percent, maturity levels are still behind the 90 percent a year ago and the average of 80 percent. Ninety-three percent had reached the dent stage, behind last year’s 98 percent and 96 percent for the average. The crop was rated 2 percent very poor, 10 percent poor, 21 percent fair, 39 percent good, and 28 percent excellent.
Farmers are continuing to report that soybean yields, both full season and double-crop, may be reduced because of the dry conditions. Soybean condition was rated 5 percent very poor, 15 percent poor, 27 percent fair, 35 percent good, and 18 percent excellent. Sixteen percent of soybeans have dropped leaves, compared to 41 percent last year and the five year average of 24 percent. About 36 percent of soybean leaves had turned yellow. Last year it was 48 percent and 43 percent for the average.
Tobacco is curing well. Seventy-three percent of burley tobacco and 69 percent of the dark tobacco had been cut as of Sunday, Sept. 14. The five year average was 73 percent for burley tobacco and 66 percent for dark tobacco. Crop condition was rated 5 percent very poor, 12 percent poor, 29 percent fair, 38 percent good, and 16 percent excellent. There are reports of major wind damage to tobacco barns, as well as the standing crop.
Pasture conditions continue to decline due to dry weather. Pastures were rated 29 percent very poor, 29 percent poor, 29 percent fair, 12 percent good, and 1 percent excellent. Hay crops were rated 17 percent very poor, 31 percent poor, 35 percent fair, 16 percent good, and 1 percent excellent.
Mostly dry weather across the state last week provided favorable harvest conditions and gave farmers 6 days suitable for fieldwork.
Corn and tobacco harvest progressed with isolated showers mid-week causing only temporary delays. Tropical Depression Ike passed through on Sunday bringing light rain with a few thunderstorms and windy conditions, especially to west and middle Tennessee. The extent of damage to crops and livestock is unknown, although numerous trees and power lines were knocked down by the winds.
Cotton and soybean development continued slightly behind normal. Virtually all of the tobacco has been topped with over 60 percent of the crop in good-to-excellent condition. Other field activities last week included defoliating cotton and harvesting hay.
As of Friday, topsoil moisture levels were rated 17 percent very short, 39 percent short, 43 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 26 percent very short, 39 percent short, 34 percent adequate and 1 percent surplus.
Temperatures across the state last week averaged slightly above to above normal. Rainfall amounts were above normal across east Tennessee and the Plateau, while middle and western areas received below normal precipitation.
COUNTY AGENT COMMENTS
"Producers started corn harvest this week with yields running from 80 to 130 bushels per acre on average. Corn seems to be holding moisture and drying down more slowly this year compared to last year. Early maturing soybeans are dropping leaves and other maturities have leaves turning yellow. Some hay has been harvested this week, as well as lime applied to harvested corn fields." Jeff Lannom, Weakley County
"Late season rains have improved pasture conditions somewhat and will hopefully help our late-season soybeans. The dark fire-cured and air-cured tobacco crops will probably produce the best yields we have ever seen. Some beef producers may actually get a fall cutting of hay this year." Ronnie Barron, Cheatham County
"Pastures have improved slightly due to the rains the last two weeks and slightly cooler weather. A few farmers have gotten a second cutting of hay, but most have not. Corn harvest continues and yields are reported to be generally under 100 bushels which is disappointing. Some late soybeans have improved but much of the double-cropped beans will have poor yields." Richard Groce, Maury County
"Dry conditions have allowed for grain moisture to continue to drop, which has accelerated harvest efforts for corn. Soybeans are in need of another good drink of water to help continue the progress they made after receiving moisture from Tropical Storm Fay. Cotton producers are beginning to defoliate the crop, about 80 percent of the crop has open bolls. Weather permitting producers should begin harvesting this week. Producers have been busy cutting fall hay, mostly johnsongrass and other summer annuals; high humidity has made for slow curing. Pastures continue to hold their own but, are in need of additional moisture. Ed Burns, Franklin County
"This week's extra one half inch of rainfall really helped our crops and pasture. It may have been too late on the drought-stricken corn and beans. Some of the later beans and corn are looking better. Pasture and hay is greening back up and it appears that another round of hay is to come." John J. Goddard, Loudon County