Southeast crops continue to suffer under widespread drouth and extreme temperatures. Although showers were received during the past week they did little to alleviate long-term problems.

Corn harvest was well under way in the lower Southeast, with most yields running well below average. Growers cutting corn for silage had a difficult time as the crop dried down faster than it could be harvested.

The cotton crop was cutting out and maturing well ahead of schedule due to the weather and some defoliants had already been applied. Peanuts were also maturing early because of the extreme weather conditions.

Livestock producers continued facing serious issues in obtaining adequate forage and water supplies.

Here’s how the various state USDA, NASS field offices reported the situation for the week ending Aug. 26.

Georgia

Thunderstorms late in the week ending Aug. 26 brought some relief from the extreme heat the state has experienced over the last month, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office.

Average high temperatures ranged from the lower 90s to the lower 100s. Average low temperatures were in the lower 70s.

Rainfall averaged 1.13 inches. Soil moisture conditions were rated at 36 percent very short, 39 percent short, 24 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus.

Thunderstorms received late in the week were spotty. More generalized rains were needed. Crop conditions continued to decline due to the heat and dry weather.

Cotton, soybeans, and peanuts were at a critical stage and were particularly stressed by the lack of water. The heat has affected crops' ability to fill normally.

Livestock producers were dealing with a hay and forage shortage and some were selling cows at reduced prices. There was an increase in limbs breaking in commercial pecan orchards. Some transplanted vegetables were having a hard time getting established.

Silverleaf whiteflies have caused damage and stress to cotton and commercial vegetables.

Other activities included harvesting tobacco, spraying cotton for worms, checking peanuts for worms, baling hay, feeding hay to livestock, irrigating crops, spraying fungicides and insecticides on peanuts, planting fall vegetables, and the routine care of poultry and livestock.

County Extension agents reported an average of 6.3 days suitable for fieldwork.

Florida

Scattered showers brought varying amounts of rain to the state during the week of Aug. 20-26. Rainfall for the week ranged from none in Live Oak to over four an half inches in Avalon. Areas receiving over two inches included Miami, Ona, Umatilla, and West Palm Beach. Lake Alfred recorded over three inches and Dover recorded over four inches of rain for the week.

All other areas, ranged from traces to nearly two inches of precipitation.

Temperatures in the major stations averaged from one to four degrees above normal. Hot daytime temperatures were in the low to upper 90s. Evening lows were in the 60s and 70s.

In Jackson County, a small acreage of peanuts has been dug with no yields measured yet. Peanuts are dying due to dry soils in Santa Rosa County. Extreme heat coupled with the extended periods of lack of precipitation has drastically affected potential yields of both peanuts and cotton in the Panhandle.

Peanut condition was rated 10 percent very poor, 30 percent poor, 40 percent fair, 18 percent good, and 2 percent excellent.

Cotton growers in Santa Rosa County expect to begin picking by mid-September.

Field crops that survived planting problems and early drought have recovered minimally, especially corn in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. Oldest planted cotton has generally shut down and is rapidly opening for an early harvest in Santa Rosa County.

Hay growers have been able to get only one cutting due to the dry spell in the Panhandle and central Peninsula areas. There were some reports of armyworm pressure in some pasture fields in central Peninsula areas.

Topsoil and subsoil moisture supplies in the Panhandle were mostly very short to adequate. Soil moisture supplies across the Peninsula were very short to adequate. Marion and Hendry counties reported very short to surplus soil supplies.

Fall vegetable crop planting continues actively in the southern Peninsula areas. Growers continue to market light shipments of okra in Dade County.

Alabama

The U.S. Drought Monitor had categorized drought conditions at 74.4 percent in the exceptional drought condition. This was a slight increase from the previous week’s indication which was 73.1 percent.

Day-time high temperatures reached between 97 — 107 degrees, and evening low temperatures were between 67 — 74 degrees. Muscle Shoals, Birmingham, and Dothan weather stations recorded nearly three inches of rain last week. Other parts of the state received rain, but it was still not enough to relieve the state of the drought.

Extension Agent, Kris Balkcom, stated that the crop in west Alabama has great potential if the area can continue to receive timely showers to fully mature the crop.

Henry County Extension Agent, James D. Jones. Jr., commented that much needed rain was received this past week. However, the area still requires two inches of rain a week for peak fruit set for most of the crops planted.

Darryl Rutland, Colbert County FSA agent, stated that corn harvested yields will be much lower than normal as well as soybeans. Jackson County FSA Agent, Donald Mann, commented that 100 degree temperatures and dry weather are killing the soybean plants, and the late soybeans will not be worth harvesting.

Autauga County Extension Agent, Leonard Kuykendall stated that corn yields worth harvesting are about 20 to 40 percent of a normal yield. Crenshaw Extension Agent, Russell C. Parrish Jr. mentioned that most corn with the exception of some tropical is now being combined for grain or harvested for silage. Mr. Parrish added that because of the dry and hot weather it was very difficult to get an entire corn field harvested for silage before it became too dry.

Mr. Mann said cotton has gone downhill fast and bolls that are not falling off are starting to open prematurely. Yield potential for cotton has gone from 800 pounds per acre a few weeks ago to 300 to 400 pounds per acre.

Mr. Rutland mentioned that cotton has gone from very good potential to a poor outlook. Cotton is opening earlier because of the heat.

Mr. Balkcom stated the peanut crop for the remainder of the state of Alabama was in dire need of a change in the weather pattern. The past two weeks of 100 degree temperatures and lack of significant rainfall has had a drastic effect on the crop’s fruit set. The 2007 peanut season has been much like 2006 season, dry with the exception of rainfall that we received during the months of August and September last year to make the crop.

Growers have been taking precautions for burrowing bugs since they attack the pods as a source for moisture during dry weather, greatly reducing the crops value.

Commercial Horticulture Extension Agent, Doug Chapman, commented moisture was lacking in the soil and cultivation was impossible without irrigation. Strawberry growers will be unable to make beds without rain or irrigation.

Non-irrigated pumpkins are beginning to perish in the 100 plus degree heat and lack of water. Spider mites are causing problems for tomato growers. Growers who grow greens have delayed planting because of the drought.

Darrell Rankins, Auburn Extension cattle specialist, stated livestock producers are still facing severe shortages of forage as a result of the extended drought. Many herds have already been liquidated and others will be sold if substantial rainfall does not begin soon.

Many producers have run out of water in ponds and creeks which had typically served as a water source for the livestock. Producers that have maintained their herds are facing severe hay shortages as we enter into the winter feeding period. Most producers are making plans for planting some winter grazing this year, but without substantial rain in September, this will also be difficult to achieve.

Cattle prices have remained strong throughout the summer. Mr. Mann said that livestock producers are selling off their herds due to lack of grass, hay, and water.

Mr. Rutland stated hay harvested was less than half of normal for the entire summer. Pastures have very little to graze at this time. Cattle are continuing to be liquidated in high numbers, and local sale barns are recording sales to be double of what they were a year ago.

Tennessee

Tennessee's weather remained hot and dry last week with scattered beneficial showers finally arriving over the weekend. The rainfall that was received, however, did little to impact the drought conditions over the state.

Corn for grain harvest has begun across the state with variable yields being reported.

Soybean development continued to outpace last year and the 5-year average by two weeks. Some soybeans are being harvested and cotton defoliation has started.

The cotton crop remains in mostly fair condition, with bolls opening at a pace of two and a half weeks ahead of normal.

With over four-fifths of the tobacco crop topped, harvest was slightly ahead of schedule for the dark types.

All crop and pasture conditions continued to deteriorate with the worst ratings for corn and soybeans since records began in 1985. Almost 90 percent of the state's pastures were rated in very poor-to-poor condition. Livestock producers are still in critical need of rain to help re-fill creeks and ponds and to rejuvenate pastures.

Producers took advantage of the dry weather to harvest tobacco and corn silage, while also preparing machinery for harvest.

There were 7 days last week considered suitable for fieldwork.

Topsoil moisture levels were rated 71 percent very short, 25 percent short, and 4 percent adequate. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 75 percent very short, 23 percent short, and 2 percent adequate.

Temperatures were 7 to 11 degrees above the normal average, while rainfall continued to be well below average. Drought conditions remain extreme to exceptional over the majority of the state.

County Agent Comments

"Corn harvest has begun in earnest, with yields running better than expected for dryland; little irrigated corn has been shelled. Cotton potential is looking worse each day now with some fields already having defoliant applied. A small portion of the county received 1.5 inches of rain over the weekend which may help soybeans. Producers are considering haying soybeans." Richard Buntin, Crockett County

"Not much to add from the previous comments from other agents during the past several weeks. We are in the same situation with pastures, crops, and water. Beef producers in some areas are hauling water. We had a couple of grass fires over the weekend, but with the good work of local rescue squads; these were contained. The fire threat is something folks are becoming more aware of in our area." Troy Dugger, Hickman County

"Conditions are very, very bad. Water is becoming a bigger problem for Giles County than feed. Our office has received several reports of springs drying up that have never done so. Farmers are continuing to liquidate livestock mainly due to their water situation. Local sale barns refused some truck loads this week due to lack of space." Kevin Rose, Giles County

"Another week of record high temperatures, drying winds, and no rain has completely ruined any remaining pastures and destroyed any chance for a late cutting of hay. Producers are supplementing depleted pastures with hay. Hay supplies for winter feeding are being used now; producers are reducing or in some cases being forced to liquidate their herds. Drought stressed corn is drying down faster than producers can harvest the crop as silage. Water available for livestock is an increasing problem for area producers. There are reports of creeks drying up, springs failing and problems with wells. In summary, the situation is critical for all agriculture in our area." Bob Sliger, Monroe County

Virginia

Numerous thunderstorms during the week helped replenish soil moisture and crop conditions across the Commonwealth.

Days suitable for work were 5.7. Topsoil moisture was generally adequate.

Corn is continuing to dry down very quickly. Silage harvest has begun in most areas. Grain corn harvest is expected to begin next week in some areas if conditions persist.

Livestock producers continue to supplement pastures with hay while concern continues to mount in reference to winter feed supplies.

Soybeans have recovered well because of precipitation in the last two weeks.

The tomato harvest is winding down as the tobacco harvest begins.

Peanuts and cotton have improved in part due to rain and lower temperatures.

Other activities last week included scouting fields for insects, spraying, preparing equipment for harvest, and fall plantings.

South Carolina

By the end of the week, South Carolina received a break from the record-breaking 100 degree plus August heat. Widely scattered thunderstorms provided many areas of the state with an inch or more of rain for some very thirsty crops.

There was no water left standing, as rain quickly soaked into the ground. Crops have really suffered during the first three weeks of the month. The heat has been overwhelming to crops, livestock, and people.

Conditions have varied field by field, and great differences could be found in just a short distance, depending on whether rain has fallen or not from the hit and miss weather pattern.

Soil moisture ratings improved, but were still very dry. They averaged 46 percent very short, 39 percent short, and 15 percent adequate. Statewide, there was an average of 6.3 days that were suitable for field work.

Rain did little to slow down corn harvest, as it was in high gear this past week. A few fields were damaged by wind gusts from thunderstorms. The crop condition for the week was 4 percent very poor, 25 percent poor, 42 percent fair, 25 percent good, and 4 percent excellent.

The lack of moisture had caused some damage to cotton, but last week’s rainfall has greatly improved the crop’s outlook. The crop was rated at 9 percent very poor, 30 percent poor, 47 percent fair, 13 percent good, and 1 percent excellent.

Peanut yield potential has increased, but weekly rains are needed to maintain, and improve the current situation. Condition this past week was 3 percent very poor, 18 percent poor, 61 percent fair, 15 percent good, and 3 percent excellent.

Likewise, soybeans should be looking better with continued rains. Early planted beans may have difficulty recovering, as they have already experienced a lot of stress. The condition of the crop was 16 percent very poor, 30 percent poor, 46 percent fair, 7 percent good, and 1 percent excellent.

The tobacco harvest continues to be behind normal for the year due to late transplanting after the spring freeze. The condition was 3 percent very poor, 16 percent poor, 45 percent fair, 33 percent good, and 3 percent excellent.

Livestock were still being sold due to poor pasture conditions, and a short hay crop. Pastures may stand a chance of improvement, but only with continued precipitation.

A very poor peach crop was still being harvested. Apple harvest continues with poor yields. The crop remained in very poor to fair condition.

North Carolina

Above normal temperatures dominated the state with highs ranging from 78 to 106 degrees. Scattered showers were also prevalent throughout the state, yet substantial rains were not experienced.

There were 6.4 days suitable for field work compared to 6.6 from the previous week.

Statewide soil moisture levels are rated at 57 percent very short, 31 percent short, 12 percent adequate, and 0 percent surplus.

Activities during the week included the beginning of apple and burley tobacco harvest, while the harvesting of corn for silage, peaches, hay, flue-cured tobacco, and sorghum continues.

Other activities included the scouting for pest and disease problems.