It has been a hot, dry summer across most of the Southeast, but the past two weeks have brought some relief in the form of rain showers.
Much damage has already been done to yield potential of area crops, but growers are hopeful the recent rainfall will provide crops with a late-season boost.
Meanwhile, livestock producers continue their struggle to find forage and water for cattle herds.
Here’s an overview of the situation as reported by the various state USDA, NASS field offices for the week ended Sept. 2.
After a second week of rainfall for many areas of the state, the U.S. Drought Monitor showed a slight improvement from the previous week in the percentage of Alabama land categorized as suffering from exceptional drought conditions.
Thomas D. Atkinson in the Madison County FSA office reported the county was beginning to get some relief from the heat and drought, but the verdict was still out on the amount of damage the crops had sustained. Temperatures for the week cooled off, but remained as many as 7 degrees above normal. Daytime highs ranged from 91 degrees in Mobile to 97 degrees in Gadsden, Opelika, and Brewton. Overnight lows varied from 63 degrees in Bridgeport to 72 degrees in Montgomery, Bay Minette, Eufaula, Headland, and Dothan.
All weather stations reported receiving rainfall during the past week. Accumulations ranged from 0.08 inches in Belle Mina to 5.42 inches in Alabaster. With the moisture received, some producers were busy in their fields working on seedbed preparation for small grain planting.
The state’s corn harvest progressed last week, as producers cut what little crop was left in their fields.
Donald Mann in the Jackson County FSA office indicated growers had yields that ranged from 30 to 110 bushels per acre, with an average of 50 to 70 bushels per acre.
Leonard Kuykendall, Autauga County Extension agent, noted that corn was yielding 50 bushels per acre or less.
Nearly 80 percent of the state’s soybean crop was reported in very poor or poor condition.
Heath Potter, regional Extension agent for Lauderdale, Lawrence and Colbert counties, mentioned that soybeans were dropping leaves not because of maturity, but due to the plants drying up.
Russell C. Parrish, Jr., Crenshaw County Extension agent, noted that some soybeans were blooming at the top, and pods were not anywhere close to beginning to fill out.
Most of Alabama’s cotton crop remained in very poor or poor condition during the past week. Crop progress continued to move forward, as fields welcomed some much needed moisture.
Mr. Potter added that defoliation in Lauderdale, Lawrence and Colbert counties was set to begin anyday.
The state’s peanut crop showed the most promise during the past week, as 60 percent was reported in fair to excellent condition. However, some fields had pegs that were very small and located only near the main root. Others were undeveloped, and in some cases dead.
The Satsuma crop was reported to be medium to large in most orchards. Fruit size was variable, but was expected to be adequate by the end of the season. Pest pressure was strong from citrus rust mite, scale, and leaf-footed bugs.
Pecan trees that were actively managed along the Gulf Coast have a large crop, and were entering the final phase of nut development. Monte Nesbitt, research horticulturist at the Gulf Coast Research and Extension Center, reported limb breakage was significant due to the large quantities of nuts produced this year.
Trees that remained untreated for fungi have dropped most of their nuts because of scab disease. Insect pressure from hickory shuckworm, black aphids, and stinkbugs was high.
Fall armyworms invaded hayfields and pastures, just as they began to show some signs of relief from the drought conditions and blistering heat experienced during the past month.
Producers in Coffee, Walker and Macon counties discovered the pest during the past week. Don Ball, Extension Forage Agronomist, stated that many pastures were already under stress from last summer’s drought and overgrazing, and now pastures were battling insect pressures.
Warm-season grasses were reported as faring much better than cool-season fescues, but Ball added it was impossible to make a sweeping assessment of the overall state of pastures and hayfields across the state.
Scattered rains became more numerous during the past week, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office. Average high temperatures ranged from the lower 90s to the 80s. Average low temperatures were in the lower 70s.
Rainfall averages varied throughout the state as rains continue to be scattered. Soil moisture conditions were rated at 23 percent very short, 32 percent short, 41 percent adequate, and 4 percent surplus.
Ponds and streams continue to be low. More generalized rains are needed.
Crop conditions showed some improvement from the previous week.
Temperatures became more normal during the week.
Cotton, soybeans, and peanuts were at a critical stage and the recent showers have been beneficial. In some areas, pastures have begun to recover. Due to a hay shortage, beef producers continue to reduce herd size.
Other activities included harvesting tobacco, applying growth regulators and boron to soybeans, baling hay, irrigating crops, spraying peanuts with fungicides and insecticides, planting fall cabbage, and the routine care of poultry and livestock.
County Extension agents reported an average of 5.6 days suitable for fieldwork.
Spotty showers falling over a few Panhandle areas during the week of Aug. 27 through Sept. 2 aided the growth and development of some peanuts and cotton. Rain for the week totaled from tenths of inches in most southeastern Peninsula and in some central Peninsula localities, to nearly four inches in Arcadia.
Ocklawaha recorded over three inches for the week while Alachua, Frostproof, Pierson, Putnam Hall, Quincy, Daytona Beach, and Tampa reported over two inches. Avalon, Ft. Pierce, Immokalee, Lake Alfred, Live Oak, Okahumpka, Sebring, Miami, and Orlando recorded less than half an inch. Most other localities received a half inch to nearly two inches.
Hot temperatures continued to dry soils in low precipitation areas with daily highs averaging in the 90s. Nighttime lows were mostly in the 70s. Daily temperatures at the major stations averaged normal to three degrees above.
Peanut digging slowly increased in Jackson County with most dryland acreage running five to 10 days behind normal. Rains in some Panhandle areas aided the growth and development of peanuts and cotton.
Statewide, peanut condition was rated 15 percent very poor, 10 percent poor, 50 percent fair, 15 percent good, and 10 percent excellent.
Hay making was active in Pasco County.
The Panhandle rains increased soil moisture in some areas with supplies rated short to mostly adequate. Jackson County reported a few spots with surplus topsoil moisture while Santa Rosa and Escambia counties reported very short to short soil moisture.
The Big Bend area reported very short to short soil moisture.
Most Peninsula areas reported short to adequate soil moisture except for reportedly short subsoil moisture over the central Peninsula.
Land preparation for fall vegetable crop planting continued in southern Peninsula areas. Tomato and other vegetable transplanting remained very active in the Immokalee and Palmetto-Ruskin areas.
Hot, dry conditions caused stress on transplants in some Hendry County fields not getting recent showers.
Tomato picking is expected to start in mid- to late-October around Palmetto. A small amount of squash was harvested in the Palmetto area. Dade County growers continue to cut okra.
Not only are the state's row crop producers having a tough season with the ongoing drought, but farmers are also faced with shortages of adequate forage and water for their livestock. Livestock producers continue to struggle with declining pasture conditions and hay shortages, as stocks were rated as 50 percent very short, 35 percent short, and 15 percent adequate.
Tennessee's weather remained warm last week with only a few scattered showers, allowing almost a full week for field work.
Harvest of this year's corn crop progressed at pace two weeks ahead of last year and the five-year average.
The state's soybean farmers began harvest on a limited basis of some early maturing varieties, while development continues to be about two and a half weeks ahead of normal.
Cotton defoliation also got under way with over three-fourth of the acreage opening bolls, a pace three weeks ahead of normal.
Other activities included harvesting tobacco and corn silage, and making land preparations for seeding fall forages.
There were 6 days last week considered suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture levels were rated 59 percent very short, 31 percent short, and 10 percent adequate. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 71 percent very short, 25 percent short, and 4 percent adequate.
Temperatures were 6 to 7 degrees above normal across the state, while rainfall was below average across the West and Plateau sections and above normal elsewhere.
County Agent Comments:
"The farmers in Fayette County have been defoliating cotton and some will start picking next week. Other activities include bean and corn harvest. Yields look fair to good so far. We did get a few showers this week in certain parts of the county." Jeffery D. Via, Fayette County
"Harvested tobacco is curing too fast in extreme heat and low humidity, resulting in poor body and off colors. Lots of questions regarding reseeding pasture grass this fall. Nitrate testing continues." David K. Glover, Smith County
"The return of moisture has many producers hoping for some increase in soybean yields. Double-crop beans make up approximately 60 percent of the soybean crop, about 10 percent were lost to the extreme drought and heat during August. Those that survived aborted flowers and pods. Most have put on new growth since Aug. 24 rains, but yield potential will be extremely low to non-existent. The extreme weather conditions of August have caused severe damage to developing beans of early planted beans. Most of the beans close to harvest are immature and green, making most of the early beans unmarketable at the elevators. Cotton producers are hoping moisture will help put a little more weight into the crop; the majority of the acres are opening bottom bolls. Ed Burns, Franklin County
"Water shortages are beginning to spill over to non-farm, rural households depending on wells for water. Forage of any kind is in great demand and only slightly available. Water for farming operations is still the major problem farmers in the county are dealing with at this time. Streams and creeks are so stagnate that they pose a health threat to those cattle that drink from them. The month of August had 30 days greater than or equal to 90 degrees, 26 days 95 degrees or higher and eight days that were 100 degrees or more. Total rainfall for the month was .76 inches." Tom Swanks, Meigs County
Most of South Carolina’s crops have improved somewhat with the additional showers that fell during the recent week. More areas have received rain, but there were still places that have had very little.
There was some relief from the extreme heat, but temperatures were still well into the 90s. Soil moisture ratings improved only slightly, and remained dry with 80 percent of the state’s soils being reported as very short or short. The average for the past week was 44 percent very short, 36 percent short, and 20 percent adequate. There was an average of 6.3 days that were suitable for field work, unchanged from the previous week.
Corn harvest continued, as the weather permitted. The crop condition for the week was 2 percent very poor, 30 percent poor, 41 percent fair, 23 percent good, and 4 percent excellent.
Portions of the state’s cotton crop may have already made its potential no matter how much rain falls from here on out due to weather damage of prematurely cracked bolls. Other areas have been greatly helped by the afternoon showers, and have seen improved conditions, and yield potential. There have been very few insect problems reported with the crop.
The cotton condition was 13 percent very poor, 32 percent poor, 43 percent fair, and 12 percent good.
Peanuts need additional moisture. The condition changed little from last week, and was 5 percent very poor, 18 percent poor, 62 percent fair, 13 percent good, and 2 percent excellent.
Soybeans in some fields were dropping leaves early, and plants have been trying to compensate since the recent rainfall. However, blooms or small pods that dropped because of the dry heat conditions may not have time to be replaced because of shorter days, and cooler nights that will likely occur in the near future. The condition of the crop was 16 percent very poor, 34 percent poor, 41 percent fair, 8 percent good, and 1 percent excellent.
There still was a good bit of tobacco left to be harvested. Disking of stripped fields was only about half of where it typically was for the time of year. The condition was 11 percent poor, 58 percent fair, 27 percent good, and 4 percent excellent.
Livestock continued to be sold because of the lack of hay and poor pastures. There were areas of the upstate that received the first decent rainfall in a very long time, and this has helped some pastures to turn green, but many have gone dormant.
A very disappointing peach harvest was winding down for the season. The applie harvest continues with poor yields. The condition was unchanged, remaining in very poor to fair condition.
North Carolina continues to experience drought conditions across the entire state. Above normal temperatures also continue to dominate the state with highs ranging from 86 to 99 degrees. A few areas of the state received significant rainfall. However this provided limited relief.
There were 6.5 days suitable for field work compared to 6.4 from the previous week. Statewide soil moisture levels are rated at 55 percent very short, 36 percent short, 9 percent adequate, and 0 percent surplus.
Activities during the week included the beginning of corn for grain harvest, while the harvesting of corn for silage, apples, peaches, hay, burley tobacco, flue-cured tobacco, and sorghum continued.
Other activities included the scouting for pest and disease problems.
Dry conditions continued in the Commonwealth for the week ending Sept. 2. Days suitable for field work were 6.5. Topsoil moisture was generally short. Pasture and hay fields were in need of rain.
Corn silage harvest was nearing completion in some counties. Some corn for grain has been harvested at high-moisture due to excessive stalk rot and lodging.
Soybeans were wilting in many fields. Soybean producers continued to scout for corn earworm and to spray some fields that reached threshold.
Cotton conditions continued to decline.
Late vegetable harvest continued.
Summer tomato harvest was over and the fall harvest has started. Other activities this past week include bushogging, hay making and preparing equipment for cotton and peanut harvest.