Meanwhile, in north Alabama, sustained temperatures of more than 100 degrees F. were parching some dryland crops, especially later-planted corn.

In Madison County, in the state’s Tennessee Valley region, FSA officials were reporting the most devastating summer in recent memory, with extremely hot temperatures and accompanying drought.

Farmers who planted double-crop soybeans behind wheat were hoping in late July that rain showers would help to salvage their crops.

Nearly half of Alabama has been declared a primary natural disaster area by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack.

Vilsack named 33 of Alabama's 67 counties in his disaster designation letter sent to Gov. Robert Bentley in late July.

The 33 named counties have had either D-2 severe drought, as measured by the U.S. Drought Monitor, for eight or more consecutive weeks, or have had D-3 extreme drought or higher at any time during the growing season.

The counties are Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Bibb, Bullock, Butler, Chambers, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Coffee, Conecuh, Coosa, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Dallas, Elmore, Escambia, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Montgomery, Perry, Pike, Randolph, Russell, Talladega, Tallapoosa and Wilcox.

This disaster designation means that farmers in those counties and in 12 contiguous counties — including the Birmingham metro counties of Jefferson, Shelby and St. Clair — are eligible for Farm Service Agency emergency loans and other assistance for the next eight months.

The condition of Alabama’s corn crop was varied in mid to late July, with 37 percent rated poor, 33 percent fair, and 20 percent good.

Cotton was 17 percent poor, 61 percent fair, and 14 percent good.

The condition of peanuts was considerably better with 1 percent rated poor, 46 percent rated fair, and 53 percent good.

The ratings on soybeans were 25 percent poor, 51 percent fair, and 18 percent good. Virtually none of the state’s row crops were rated in excellent condition.

In Georgia, 142 or nearly all of the state’s counties have been declared primary or continuous drought disaster areas by USDA.

Most of the state’s topsoil moisture was rated at very short to adequate as dry conditions prevailed despite scattered showers.

One-hundred-plus degree temperatures had stunted crop growth in some regions of the state. Exceptional drought conditions persisted in a swatch stretching from extreme southwest Georgia to the northeast portion of the state.

Georgia’s corn crop was rated 23 percent fair, 48 percent good, and 10 percent excellent in July. Cotton was 38 percent fair, 45 percent good, and 13 percent excellent. The state’s peanut crop was rated 27 percent fair, 55 percent good, and 16 percent excellent. Soybeans were 25 percent fair, 49 percent good, and 16 percent excellent.

phollis@farmpress.com