Skippy, uneven, unlevel, jagged, non-uniform, irregular — farmers in the lower Southeast are running out of words to describe a crop that is anything but pretty this year due to an extremely dry May and sporadic showers ever since.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor’s mid-July report, conditions were improving in places, with scattered showers and  thunderstorms pelting the Southeast, and substantial showers falling on parts of the Carolinas, southern Georgia, most of Florida, and on portions of southeastern Louisiana and southern sections of Mississippi and Alabama.

In contrast, dry and warm weather aggravated drought conditions in the lower Mississippi Valley including northern Louisiana, southern Arkansas and western Mississippi.

In North Carolina, 2 to 4 inches of rain improved conditions in some locations. In Dare County, 3 to 5 inches of rain were reported. Additional rains will be needed, however, to further improve drought as any future prolonged periods of summer dryness and warmth could quickly deteriorate conditions, states the U.S. Drought Monitor.

In South Carolina, heavy rains of 2 to 4 inches in the west and east-central improved drought conditions, but elsewhere the rains were too scattered in nature for improvement.

In Georgia, drought relief was limited to the extreme southern portions of the state where 2.5 to 3.5 inches fell. 

In Florida, widespread, heavy summer rains brought large improvements to the state, especially in the southern half. In Florida’s Big Bend, east-central, and south, widespread 10-plus inches of rain have greatly eased drought conditions, including river flows.

Farther west, some slight improvements were made in southern Alabama and Mississippi where more than 2 inches of rain fell, and in north-central Alabama where drought conditions were alleviated. Recent rains have eased or erased short-term deficits from northern Alabama to northern North Carolina.

In Georgia, many peanut producers are eyeing a late crop, says John Beasley, University of Georgia Extension peanut agronomist.

“We have some difficult situations out there due to drought stress,” said Beasley in mid-July. “Growers may have planted back in May, but if the plants emerged in late June or early July, we can’t start thinking about the maturity range in those peanuts until they really start pegging or blooming.”