Crop conditions continue to vary widely across the lower Southeast and that is particularly true for Alabama where some corn was reported to be in the best shape in recent years, while other fields bordered on disaster.

It was also reported that Alabama’s cotton crop varied from knee-high and blooming in extremely dry areas to chest high in regions that have received adequate moisture.

In Florida, peanut growers in Okaloosa County treated for tobacco budworms, while vegetable growers in Hendry County began preparing land for fall planting next month.

Widely scattered rains were reported in Georgia. The scattered showers helped improve soil moisture conditions and prevented conditions from deteriorating.

Some Georgia growers were predicting a decrease in corn yields as a result of stink bug and heat damage.

For an overall look at the crop situation in the lower Southeast for the week ending July 27, here are the reports from the state USDA/NASS field offices.

Alabama

Weather conditions across the state remained diverse during the past week. Shane Seay, county executive director in the Limestone County FSA office, indicated that temperatures reached the 100 degree mark with only spotty rain showers received.

Thomas D. Atkinson, county executive director in the Madison County FSA office, reported that some areas of the county had not received any significant rainfall since Memorial Day weekend.

Conversely, Henry Dorough, regional Extension agent located in Talladega County, stated that widespread rainfall during the past week helped to alleviate some of the drought conditions in pastures and hayfields throughout the area.

James D. Jones, Jr., county Extension coordinator for Henry County, added that some much needed rain fell across the county during the past week.

Average temperatures during the past week varied from just below to well above normal, and were above the century mark in several places. Daytime highs ranged from 95 degrees in Union Springs, Bay Minette, and Highland Home to a sweltering 104 degrees in Hamilton.

Overnight lows varied from 59 degrees in Bridgeport to 72 degrees in Montgomery, Bay Minette, Mobile, and Dothan.

All weather stations reported receiving rain during the past week. Total accumulations were well above one inch in numerous locations across the state, with Russellville, Bridgeport, Thomasville, and Mobile receiving over three inches. However, many areas that have received rainfall remained well behind normal in their year- to-date precipitation totals.

The condition of Alabama’s row crops was dependent upon the amount of rainfall that had been received throughout the duration of this year’s growing season. Dale Monks, agronomist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, stated that some corn stands in central and southern Alabama were the best he had seen in recent years, while others located in the Wiregrass region bordered on disaster.

It was reported that the condition of the state’s cotton crop varied from knee-high and blooming in extremely dry areas to chest high in regions that have received adequate moisture.

The peanut crop was holding on well across the peanut belt. Leonard Kuykendall, regional Extension agent located in Autauga County, reported that a widespread rain boosted all crops, but particularly benefited peanuts and double-cropped soybeans.

Alex Brand, county executive director in the Wilcox County FSA office, indicated that all crops needed rain, but that cotton and soybeans looked good in most places.

Jeff Knotts, county executive director in the Pike County FSA office, stated that most of the county welcomed copious amounts of rainfall at a critical stage of the growing season.

Producers spent the week making insecticide and herbicide applications to cotton, peanuts and soybeans.

Pasture conditions across the state varied, but overall showed a decline during the past week. Shane Seay noted the prospects for producers in Limestone County harvesting a second cutting of hay diminished as any grass that was available was being grazed. However, hay production in some areas of Districts 20 and 30 was thriving.

T. H. Gregg, regional Extension agent located in Etowah County, mentioned that some hay producers in the area were able to harvest a second cutting of hay. Henry Dorough added that a few producers in the Talladega County area were preparing to harvest a second cutting of hay.

Most livestock remained in good to excellent condition during the past week, but showed a slight decline as pastures in many areas of the state continued to burn up.

Florida

Daytime highs were in the 90s during the week of July 21 through July 27. Nightly lows ranged from the upper 60s to mid-70s.

Rainfall was scattered throughout the state. Some areas received less than an inch, while others saw over three inches of rain. Sebring, in Highlands County, reported 4.71 inches of precipitation for the week. Most locations in the northern part of the state got about one inch, except Live Oak and Carrabelle which reported over 2.5 inches.

Peanut pegging was 90 percent completed, compared to 79 percent last year. Peanut condition was rated 21 percent fair, 53 percent good, and 26 percent excellent. Most fields continued to welcome recent rains as conditions for crops were favorable.

Marion County reported that small amounts of hay have been baled this season. Hendry County reported that hay looked good.

Peanut growers in Okaloosa County treated crops for tobacco budworms.

Soil moisture levels were short to adequate in the Panhandle and Big Bend.

The central and southern Peninsulas had adequate soil moisture.

Vegetable growers in Hendry County began preparing land for fall planting in August. Okra and avocadoes moved through the market for the week ending July 27, 2008.

In the Panhandle and northern areas, pasture was in fair to excellent condition, with most in good condition. Recent rain favored growing conditions for forages. Pastures were looking better and forage for hay looks good.

Pasture in the central area was fair to excellent, but most was in fair condition. There has been good growth of pasture grasses. The condition of cattle was mostly fair. The water level of some stockponds was up but some were short.

In the southwest, pasture condition was very poor to excellent, with most fair to good. The pasture condition has gone down due to drought. The cattle condition in the southwest was very poor to excellent. Some livestock were bothered by flies and mosquitoes.

Statewide, cattle condition was mostly fair to good.

All citrus-producing areas received some rainfall during the week. Localized thunderstorms in some areas brought large amounts of precipitation. Recordings in Sebring were over four and one half inches for the week. Balm had over three inches.

Temperatures have been warm, reaching the lower 90s on several days. A high of 96 was recorded in both Lake Alfred and Balm.

Activity in the groves included applications of summer oils, cleaning ditches, fertilizing, mowing, and some hedging. Growers were combining efforts to address canker and psyllid control. Access to groves with canker or greening was being approved by cautious owners and usually with restrictions.

Overall, the showers have been beneficial to the growth of both the foliage and the new fruit.

Oranges have been observed at various sizes ranging between golf ball and baseball size. Grapefruit tend to be running larger.

Georgia

Widely scattered rains were beneficial, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office.

Daily average high temperatures fluctuated between the high 80s and low 90s. Average lows were in the high 60s most of week.

Soil moisture conditions were rated at 16 percent very short, 40 percent short, 42 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus.

Scattered rain has helped improve soil moisture conditions and prevented conditions from deteriorating. Pasture and hayfield conditions improved slightly due to rains. A high number of armyworms have been reported in some fields of hay.

Heavy insect damage has been reported by farmers. Some farmers are predicting corn yields to decrease as a result of stink bugs and heat damage.

Other activities included irrigating crops as needed and controlling crop insect damage. County Extension agents reported an average of 5.9 days suitable for fieldwork.

DISTRICT COMMENTS

District 1 — Northwest “It has once again become extremely dry. There have been scattered showers, but the scattered showers have been short rainfall.”

District 2 — North Central “Rain this week improved soil moisture conditions. Most corn is now tasseling and adequate rain is needed.”

District 3 — Northeast “Scattered thunder showers (one half to nine tenths of an inch) kept situation from deteriorating.”

District 4 — West Central “Scattered rainfall has helped improve crop conditions, especially forages.”

“Two weeks since last appreciable rainfall, the brief relief was just that, brief. Dry and hot is leading to rapidly deteriorating conditions.”

District 5 — Central “Some light showers this week and very hot!”

“We received 0.67 inch of rainfall during the past week and 4.25 for the month.”

“Continues to be dry and hot. Rains continue to miss most of the county. Scattered light showers have fallen. Haying continues on hay fields. Quantity is low. Praying for rain!”

“July rains have improved pasture and hay conditions. Many farmers were late getting their first bermuda hay cutting. Now many are working on growing their second cutting. Getting reports of armyworms in a few fields of hay in the county. Some have reported heavy damage already.”

District 6 — East Central “Getting spotty rains, heavy in places. Next 10-15 days will "tell the tale" on all dry land crops. Some cotton, in driest fields, approaching cut-out. Cattle are "limping along" with low feed and low prices. Corn yield will be down primarily due to stink bug and heat damage during pollination/silking along with averaging in dryland corn that didn't even try to make ears.”

“Crop conditions continue to deteriorate. Scattered showers have been extremely spotty.”

District 7 — Southwest “Scattered showers over 85 percent of the county the past week. Crop and pasture conditions continue to improve.”

“We have received some rain over almost all of the county. The northern part of the county had been without any appreciable rain for a significant period.”

District 8 — South Central “Afternoon showers are helping, but need a weather front. Some parts of county suffering due to lack of rainfall. Peanuts getting worms and diseases showing up. Cotton is vulnerable to the stink bug and worms. Corn yields will be down 10-15percent due to high heat and drought. Tobacco TSWV was about 8 percent or less on treated plants and about 18 percent on untreated plants. Tobacco harvest is cranking up big time. Fuel cost to cure is cutting into profits. Cutting and baling hay between showers.”

“We have been receiving spotty rain showers during this reporting period! This has been good for our producers in the county, this has been two weeks in a row with spotty rain showers.”

“Dryland cotton needs more rainfall.”