While most attention in U.S. agriculture has been focused this summer on the devastating Midwestern drought, and justifiably so, parts of the lower Southeast have quietly climbed out of the most extreme dry conditions, and many growers are poised to harvest impressive yields.

As of mid-August, the U.S. Drought Monitor was reporting that rains in the Southeast had helped to improve drought conditions throughout Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

Exceptional drought — which is the most intense of the drought ratings — had been eradicated in Alabama and reduced in Georgia, while all other drought ratings also were reduced.

In Florida, only 12 percent of the state was rated as “abnormally dry” midway through August, and no parts of the states were listed in any of the drought categories. According to the state’s agricultural statistics service, frequent rains across Florida during July and August benefited most crops while making hay harvest difficult.

In Gulf County, plentiful rainfall was hindering some early cotton harvest and almost daily rains were increasing disease pressure on peanuts in Jefferson County.

Frequent showers also have provided adequate moisture for row crops in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

County Extension agents were reporting that showers had made it nearly impossible for growers to spray peanuts and cotton, and that farmers would need to be aggressive in their programs to contain leaf spot and fungal diseases.

Soybeans were responding very positively from hot, wet soil conditions.

Florida vegetable growers in Collier, Lee, Hendry, Glades and Charlotte counties were preparing land and laying plastic for planting fall crops beginning later in August. Hillsborough County producers were still harvesting small quantities of okra.

Statewide, the condition of pastures in Florida ranged from very poor to excellent with most pastures in good condition. The condition of the cattle was very poor to excellent with most in good condition.