While rainfall from tropical storms has been beneficial to some areas of the Southeast this year, other areas remain dry. And, in some cases, crop yields in parts of the lower Southeast have been adversely affected.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor’s final report for the month of September, about one half inch to more than 1 inch of rain fell over coastal South Carolina and central North Carolina during the final week of the month, and groundwater levels in central North Carolina were finally reflecting the recharge from rains of the last 30 days. This resulted in an improvement in drought conditions in the North Carolina piedmont, the York-Cherokee-Chester county area of South Carolina, and southern coastal South Carolina.
But dryness persisted across other parts of the Southeast. Drought was expanded to the coast in southern South Carolina, an area which missed the recent rains, and drought conditions expanded to fill more of upstate South Carolina.
The impacts designation was adjusted to reflect AH impacts across Georgia, upstate South Carolina, western North Carolina, and eastern Tennessee. In addition to the low streams, reservoirs, groundwater, and topsoil moisture, USDA/NASS reports indicated that some crops were beginning to be stressed in Georgia, upstate South Carolina, western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. Ranchers in upstate South Carolina were selling off their herds due to the lack of hay.
Tropical Storm Fay moved into southern Georgia during the weekend of Aug. 23-24, and while rainfall from the storm brought much needed soil moisture to the region, accompanying winds and excessive rainfall resulted in crop damage in some counties.
Harvesting of some crops had begun in Georgia at the time of the storm, but other crops were weeks away from harvest.
In a preliminary report, the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development concluded that some damage was probably inevitable. “Crop conditions may improve in some situations, but there is potential for disease and further deteriorating conditions in other situations,” states the report.
The report evaluates production value losses and the economic impacts based on damage assessments one week after the storm.
According to the report, “Production value losses in 28 Georgia counties are concentrated in southern areas near the Florida and Alabama borders. Cotton has the greatest losses with $32.2 million which is 24 percent of expected value for affected counties.
Pecans have the second greatest losses of $17.3 million, or 28 percent of expected production value. Corn production value losses are $10 million which is 20 percent of expected value.”
Total production value losses for affected counties are $71.7 million, which is 22 percent of expected production value. Direct output losses lead to $46.9 million in indirect impacts for total Georgia output impacts of $118.6 million in losses, states the report.
The September crop report from USDA/NASS would appear to confirm Georgia had generally normal temperatures for most of August, according to the UGA report, with most row crops showing a decline in estimated average yields from August to September.
The southwest portion of Georgia received heavy rainfall from Tropical Storm Fay, says the report, and based on a survey of growers contacted around Sept. 1, crop yields for tobacco, cotton and corn all showed slight decreases from the previous month. Soybean yield remained the same as in August, while peanuts showed a slight increase. The condition of most crops was rated fair to good.
Peanut production in Georgia is forecast at 2.16 billion pounds, compared with last year's 1.64 billion pounds. Planted and harvested acres are up slightly from last month. Planted acres are at 695,000 and harvested acres at 685,000.
Yields across Georgia's peanut belt are expected to average 3,150 pounds per acre, 50 pounds more than the previous month and the same as last year. Growers were just beginning to dig peanuts by the first part of September, and as of Sept. 7, 64 percent of the peanut crop was rated good to excellent, 30 percent was rated fair, and 6 percent was rated poor to very poor.
Georgia's 2008 cotton crop is forecast to average 797 pounds of lint per harvested acre, 12 pounds less than the August estimate and 4 pounds per acre less than last year. Planted acreage at 950,000 acres is 50,000 acres higher than the August estimate, but 80,000 acres less than in 2007.
Acreage expected to be harvested this fall is estimated at 940,000 acres, up 50,000 acres from the August estimate but 55,000 acres less than last year. Production is estimated at 1.56 million bales, 6 percent less than last year's 1.66 million bales.
As of Sept. 7, 41 percent of the cotton crop was rated good to excellent, 42 percent was rated fair, and 17 percent was rated poor to very poor.
Tobacco yields for 2008 are expected to average 2,350 pounds per acre, 100 pounds less than the August estimate but 200 pounds more than last year. Acreage harvested is expected to be 16,500 acres, 2,000 acres less than last year. This puts potential production at 38.8 million pounds for the year 2008, 3 percent less than in 2007. As of Sept. 7, 81 percent of the crop had been harvested, about a week behind normal.
Corn yield for 2008 is expected to average 135 bushels per harvested acre, 5 bushels below last month but 5 bushels per acre more last year. Georgia’s total corn production is expected to total 43.2 million bushels from 320,000 acres harvested for grain. Production is down 26 percent from last year. The corn for grain harvest is slightly below normal with 59 percent of the crop harvested by Sept. 7. This harvest progress compares with 64 percent for the five-year average.
Soybean yields in Georgia are forecast at 30 bushels per harvested acre, the same as the August estimate. Production is forecast at 12.2 million bushels, up significantly from the 8.3 million bushels last year. Harvested acres are estimated at 405,000, the same as the August estimate but up 130,000 acres from last year’s 275,000 acres.