Growers in Kentucky and Tennessee are still reeling from the torrential downpours and flooding that hit the area May 1-2. The worst hit areas were west and middle Tennessee, south central and western Kentucky, with northern Mississippi also heavily involved in the outbreak.
Since that time persistent rainfall has continued to slow field operations in the stricken area. Here’s how the Kentucky and Tennessee field offices of the USDA/NASS reported the crop situation for the week ended May 23.
Below normal temperatures and above normal rainfall was the trend across the Commonwealth last week. Temperature average, at 65 degrees, was 2 degree below normal for this time of year. Total precipitation for the week was 1.11 inches, 0.05 inches above normal.
Topsoil moisture was rated as 65 percent adequate, and 35 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture was rated as 4 percent short, 77 percent adequate, and 19 percent surplus. There were 2.8 days, out of a possible 7, suitable for fieldwork.
Rain during the week delayed fieldwork and caused additional flooding in some locations. Many fields are still saturated due to rainfall received since May 1.
Wet conditions inhibited corn planting last week. Reported progress was 96 percent of intended acreage planted, up 25 percent from last year, and up 8 percent from the five year average. Corn emergence was reported at 89 percent, 41 percent above the previous year, and 14 percent above the five year average.
In some areas, water damage will force replanting or a possible switch from corn to soybeans or milo. Corn not affected by the excessive rainfall appears to be doing well. The average emerged corn height was 10 inches, with the most advanced height at 17 inches.
Soybean planting progress was reported at 45 percent, 33 percent above last year, and 9 percent above the five year average. Emerged soybeans reported at 23 percent, 18 percent above the previous year, and 6 percent above the five year average.
As of Sunday May 23, 22 percent of the state’s burley had been set, 12 percent below last year, and 11 percent below the five year average. Dark tobacco is 34 percent set, 4 percent ahead of the five year average. Wet fields from continued precipitation hindered setting progress for the week. Tobacco producers were still anxious for the fields to dry from the rain to continue tobacco setting. Some producers have mowed transplants to keep from getting too large.
Winter wheat condition was reported as 3 percent very poor, 7 percent poor, 21 percent fair, 49 percent good, and 20 percent excellent. Some farmers were concerned that the wet weather could pose a potential disease problem in the winter wheat crop. The winter wheat harvest is expected to begin on June 15.
Other crops & pasture
For the week of May 23, hay crop condition was rated as 1 percent very poor, 6 percent poor, 30 percent fair, 46 percent good, and 17 percent excellent. Farmers are cutting hay as much as the weather will allow. Rain delays will impact both yield and quality on first cutting of hay.
Pasture condition was rated as 1 percent very poor, 3 percent poor, 23 percent fair, 54 percent good, and 19 percent excellent.
Storm systems moved across the state early last week, continuing to keep farmers out of fields, which were still wet from the previous weekend's rainfall. However, farmers made the most of the 3 days suitable for field work by planting cotton, corn, and soybeans in their upland ground. Other farm work last week included cutting hay, repairing flood damaged fences, transplanting tobacco, and spraying pesticides.
With the exception of acres to be planted for silage across middle and east Tennessee, most of the corn crop has been planted.
Topsoil moisture levels were rated 3 percent short, 64 percent adequate and 33 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 3 percent short, 69 percent adequate and 28 percent surplus. Temperatures averaged a couple of degrees above normal across the state. Precipitation levels were slightly below normal.
County agent comments
"The farmers in Fayette County were not able to do much if any field work due to wet conditions at the end of last week and wet conditions occurring this Thursday. Maybe next week it will dry up and cotton and beans can be planted. When it does dry, herbicides will be applied as well as side-dress applications again from water." Jeffery D. Via, Fayette County
"All our farms along the Cumberland River and its tributaries are recovering from the devastating floods. All planted corn in these areas was lost. Hay ground along flood plains is packed with mud and debris. Farmers in the northern part of the county have started cutting hay and setting tobacco. However, current rains are hampering progress." Ronnie Barron, Cheatham County
"Wet conditions continue to keep farmers out of the fields. First hay cutting is behind schedule. Soybean planting is also behind schedule. Some diseases are now showing up in vegetable and fruit crops. Strawberry harvest is in full swing.” Calvin Bryant, Lawrence County
"Periodic rains throughout the week have kept soybean, corn silage planting and hay cutting slow. Due to wet conditions, very little corn has been replanted. Farmers will change to planting soybeans. Farmers are still dealing with washed out bridges, farm roads and fences. Generally, livestock have plenty of pasture." Richard Groce, Maury County
"Triticale, canola and wheat look good. Corn looked good until sugar cane beetles hit. Cool season hay is ripe and ready to cut as soon as rain lets up. Tobacco is all set and ready to go." John Goddard, Loudon County
"Threatening showers over the past two weeks have kept producers from cutting hay. Most of the rain showers have not materialized resulting in increasingly lower soil moisture." Chris Ramsey, Sullivan County