What started out as the bleakest of production seasons has improved considerably in a matter of just a few weeks for many growers in the lower Southeastern states of Alabama, Florida and Georgia.
In the U.S. Drought Monitor’s final summary for the month of July, drought conditions — which were rated as exceptional in some areas — have generally improved across the region.
For some growers, the showers and thunderstorms seen regularly during late June and July were too little, too late for the dryland corn crop. But conditions appear to be on the upswing for a majority of the cotton, peanut and soybean crops.
The Drought Monitor reported that late-July rainfall was heaviest in the central Gulf Coast region and along the western slopes of the central and southern Appalachians, resulting in some modest improvements in the drought ratings.
Still, poor crop conditions were lingering in some parts of the Southeast. In Alabama, for example, 21 percent of the peanuts and 19 percent of the cotton were rated poor.
In Georgia, 34 percent of the cotton crop was rated as very poor to poor during the last week of July.
Topsoil and subsoil moisture conditions steadily improved throughout July in the lower Southeast region.
In Florida, scattered rains continued throughout the latter part of July. Nearly 2 inches of precipitation was recorded in Arcadia and Jay.
Localities receiving more than 2 inches of rainfall included Homestead, Kenansville and Orlando. Rainfall totaled more than 3 inches in North Port.
In Pensacola, more than 5 inches was received for the week. Recent rains helped decrease the threats of wildfires.
Growers welcomed the rains across the Panhandle with soil moisture supplies mostly adequate. Recovery for field crops progressed with most crops having a chance of survival if drought conditions do not return.
Pest, disease pressure increased
Pest and disease pressure increased in field crops due to the improved moisture conditions coupled with the high temperatures.
Rainfall over the Panhandle boosted growth and development of some peanuts as well as cotton. Growers reported the height of some cotton plants were shorter than normal.
Peanut condition in Florida was rated 2 percent very poor, 4 percent poor, 33 percent fair, and 61 percent good in late July.
In Putnam County, corn harvesting was active, and some growers in Walton County planted soybeans despite the late date.
Field preparations for the fall vegetable crop planting remained active across central and southern Peninsula areas in Florida.
Some vegetable growers were busy disking and spraying weeds in order to start laying plastic soon. Okra harvesting continued in Miami-Dade County. Light supplies of avocados were marketed with movement expected to increase during August.
Statewide, pasture and cattle conditions were mostly good in Florida. The pasture condition stabilized in the northern counties and improved in the southwestern areas.
Supplemental hay was being fed. In the Panhandle and northern areas, pasture ranged from very poor to excellent condition with most in fair to good condition.
Rainfall helped pastures to improve, but much of the pastureland had not recovered from the drought of the past several months. Livestock owners were feeding hay where pastures had been overgrazed.
The condition of the cattle ranged from poor to excellent, with most fair to good.
In the central area, the pasture and cattle varied from very poor to excellent, with most in fair to good condition.
In the southwest area, pasture and cattle conditions varied from poor to excellent, with most in good condition. Grasshopper damage was noted in some pastures. Stock pond water levels were up and some low lying pasture was flooded.