Early peanut and soybean harvest got under way this past week in the lower Southeast region, even though some growers were still assessing tropical storm damage.

In Alabama, corn harvest moved ahead following a week of inactivity due to wet fields. Pecan damage was reported in Mobile County due to high winds from Hurricane Gustav.

In Florida, flooding in Nassau County significantly damaged the cotton crop, while Jackson County cotton growers reported some hard lock and boll rot.

However, Georgia ended the week on the dry side. Boll rot was reported in cotton and white mold was being found in peanuts.

Here’s how the overall situation was reported by the various state USDA/NASS field offices for the week ending Sept. 8.

Alabama

The excitement following two weeks of tropical weather has died down, allowing producers ample time to push forward through this year’s crop season. Crop damage following tropical storm Fay and hurricane Gustav was minimal.

However, Bruce West, county executive director in the Mobile County FSA office, reported that approximately 25 percent of the county’s pecan crop was lost following highs winds from hurricane Gustav.

Over 41 percent of the state was classified as drought free for the second week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released for Sept. 2, 2008.

Temperatures during the past week varied from average in Union Springs and Mobile to as many as five degrees above average in Pinson. Daytime highs ranged from 87 degrees in Sand Mountain to 93 degrees in Brewton and Dothan. Overnight lows varied from 57 degrees in Belle Mina to a sultry 74 degrees in Bay Minette. With the exceptions of Cullman, Gadsden, and Pinson, all weather stations reported receiving some rainfall during the past week.

Total accumulations ranged from 0.01 inches in Montgomery to 3.52 inches in Bay Minette. Other notable rainfall totals were 2.55 inches in Mobile, and 1.22 inches in Livingston.

The state’s corn harvest moved forward during the past week, following a week of slow activity. Leonard Kuykendall, regional Extension agent located in Autauga County, mentioned that wet soils kept farmers out of their fields until this past Monday when producers continued harvesting their corn crop, and began defoliation on some drought-stressed cotton.

Doyle Barnes, county executive director in the Covington County FSA office, noted the recent rainfall during the past week had cotton and peanuts poised to make a good crop with harvest in some producer’s fields still ahead. The majority of Alabama’s peanut crop remained in good to excellent condition, as harvest got under way.

Some soybeans growers were busy making insecticide and herbicide applications to late-planted bean stands, while others spent time harvesting the first of the 2008 crop.

Danny S. Miller, county Extension coordinator for DeKalb County, indicated that drought conditions still existed in much of the county, leaving many pastures in poor condition. Doyle Barnes noted that pastures and hayfields in Covington County looked especially good for this time of year. Henry Dorough, regional Extension agent located in Talladega County, stated that some producers in the region finished a third or fourth cutting of hay. Many DeKalb County ponds that were filled by the heavy rainfall associated with the recent rainfall were drying again, indicating that sub-soil moisture was still low. The state’s livestock condition improved slightly during the past week, as cattle began to show the effects of many areas having a sufficient supply of forages to sustain them.

Florida

Throughout the state, daytime high temperatures reached the 90s. Lows ranged from the 60s to lower 70s. Major cities averaged highs in the upper 80s to low 90s and lows in the 70s.

Rainfall was less than half an inch for most locations. However, St. Lucie County received 2.41 inches. Glades, Volusia, and Broward counties reported just over one inch of precipitation for last week.

Peanut condition was rated 17 percent fair, 69 percent good, and 14 percent excellent. A few growers began peanut harvesting in Jackson County. In the Southwest corner of Washington County, excess rain from recent tropical storms has hindered field activities, such as spraying peanuts for leaf spot. Some Washington County peanut growers expected white mold, but overall the county’s crops were doing well.

Escambia and Jackson counties reported that corn harvest was finished. Flagler County was in the process of harvesting corn. Growers in Columbia County reported that rain has delayed corn harvesting.

Flooding in Nassau County significantly damaged their cotton crop. Jackson County cotton growers reported some hard lock and boll rot.

Some areas in the Big Bend still had hay fields with standing water. Other areas reported that flood waters were draining quickly and there was no substantial damage from recent tropical storms. Soil moisture levels were adequate in most locations.

Some vegetable fields in the central and southern Peninsulas were drying out, which allowed land preparations and vegetable planting to continue. Cabbage and broccoli land preparations were delayed for some centrally located growers. Okra and avocados moved through the market last week.

Georgia

Lack of rain deprived crops of moisture, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office. Daily average high temperatures were in the high 80s. Average lows were in the 60s most of week. Soil moisture conditions were rated at 4 percent very short, 24 percent short, 62 percent adequate, and 10 percent surplus.

Some hay producers were watching for hurricanes and trying to decide whether or not to cut hay. Army worms and stink bugs have been cited in some fields. Some producers had to rely on peanut hay for cattle.

Boll rot has still been reported in cotton and white mold has been sited in peanuts. Scattered showers where reported in some areas of the state.

Other activities included spraying late peanuts with fungicide, stripping tobacco and cutting hay. County Extension agents reported an average of 6 days suitable for fieldwork.

DISTRICT COMMENTS

District 1 — Northwest

“Rains last week really helped green things. Hopefully, the approaching tropical storm will bring some more much needed rains this weekend.

District 2 — North Central

“Hay harvesting this week — commercial grape harvest has begun.”

District 3 –Northeast

“Recent showers have temporarily improved the pasture and hay situation.

District 4 – West Central

“Soil moisture is backing up rapidly. Fertilization, liming, some hay being cut. Thoughts are on adding legumes into pastures and improving cool season stands.”

District 5 — Central

“No rain this week. Weather was hot and humid. Corn harvest continues. Hay producers watching hurricanes and trying to make decisions on whether to cut hay or not. Army worms present in some hayfields and pastures.

“We were spared from most of the rainfall from Hurricane Gustavo. However, we did get scattered showers which aided a moderate turnaround of our rainfall deficit.”

“Moisture and moderate temperatures make growing forages and hay much better.”

District 6 — East Central

“Corn harvest running late due to showery weather last week and long waits at the elevators. Overall, corn yields are good, not exceptionally good. Some places were hit by stink bugs and hot, dry weather at pollination. Soybeans have increased in size with last week's rains. No severe worm damage yet, but stink bugs continue to be near threshold levels for early pod stage. Peanuts are looking better all the time. Pasture and hay continue to be low, but limping along with occasional rains. Will have to rely on peanut hay again this year for cattle. One more good soaking rain could do wonders on our late/double-cropped soybeans and really fill out the peanuts.”

District 8 — South Central

“Spraying late peanuts with fungicides. Stripping tobacco. Some boll rot in cotton and white mold and TSWV showing up in peanuts. Cutting hay. Farmers concerned about Hurricane Ike. Some irrigation of late peanuts. Checking early May planted peanuts and showing about 14-17 days from digging. A few may be dug early due to disease and stress. Mostly dryland peanuts. Soybeans look good and no report of rust as of yet. Cotton showing stemphylium which is due to potassium deficiency. Mostly due to drought and then heavy rains and boll set and demand for nutrients. Will affect yield some. Some late cotton treated for stink bugs this week. Most peanut growers applied last fungicide treatment. In general, crop looks good. Corn harvest is wrapping up with yields per acre averaging between 140-160 bushels per acre which is not bad considering the growing season we had.

“Hurricane Fay caused severe damage to the remaining tobacco crop. One producer projects 50 percent crop loss — while another projects at least 30 percent loss. The remaining producers (7) project less due to more advanced crop harvest in their fields.”

“This week has been good drying out period for the county growers. The harvesting of tobacco has increased at rapid pace due to Tropical Storm Fay damage to this crop. Corn growers are trying to speed up the harvesting of this crop due to other tropical storms. The peanut growers have started testing this crop for mature/profile, to start digging this crop of peanut!