Even though growers in some areas have their corn crops in the ground, many in the Southeast are behind schedule due to cool, wet soil conditions.
Wheat, vegetable and fruit crops were making good progress, but growers were concerned about an approaching cold front as the week of April 14 began.
Here’s how the various state offices of the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported the situation.
A number of Alabama producers held off on planting their fields because of predicted cool to possibly freezing temperatures for many areas across the state
The drought conditions that plagued most of the state last year continued to improve, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released for April 8, 2008. Just over 25 percent of Alabama’s streams, rivers, and ponds were indicated as still suffering from exceptional hydrological drought.
Temperatures for the past week reached as many as 8 degrees above normal. Daytime highs ranged from 78 degrees in Bridgeport to a sweltering 87 degrees in Dothan. Overnight lows dipped below freezing to 28 degrees in Russellville.
All reporting weather stations received rainfall for the second straight week. However, the majority of accumulations were below average for this time of year. Totals ranged from 0.13 inches in Geneva to 1.29 inches in Birmingham, the only location to receive more precipitation than normal.
The majority of the 2008 winter wheat crop was reported in good to excellent condition. Wheat stands in Covington County were beginning to head. Brandon Dillard, Regional Extension Agent located in Geneva County, indicated that the small grains in the area had shown some drought stress, but timely rainfall alleviated the drying conditions. Fungicide applications were made to some wheat fields.
Spring planting continued to lag behind last year’s progress for corn, cotton, and soybeans. Cool temperatures and wet fields have limited the number of days available for fieldwork in some areas.
Leonard Kuykendall, regional Extension agent located in Autauga County, reported that producers were wrapping up their corn planting, while preparing for cotton planting with tillage operations and burn-down applications.
Alex Brand, county executive director in the Wilcox County FSA office, noted that some corn in the area had been planted, with most already emerged.
Dawn Hoagland, county executive director in the Blount County FSA office, stated that many strawberry producers opened their U-Pick operations during the past week, and were looking to utilize row covers for protection against the forecasted freezing temperatures during the next couple of days.
Bruce West, county executive director in the Mobile County FSA office, added that fruit and vegetable conditions in the area were good at this time, and the sod crop had good soil moisture.
Pasture conditions were reported in mostly good to excellent condition during the past week. T.H. Gregg, regional Extension agent located in Etowah County, noted that pasture rye grass was growing well.
Henry Dorough, regional Extension agent located in Talladega County, mentioned that continued rains coupled with recent fertilizer applications brought pastures in the area back to good condition. Bahia pastures and hay fields began to show some growth. However, weed pressure brought on by two years of drought conditions was forcing producers to take action.
Kenneth Kelly, regional Extension agent located in Mobile County, reported some winter annuals remained decent, while the condition of others took a downward turn.
Hay supplies that remained from last year’s crop were short, as producers were forced to feed hay earlier during the fall and winter months.
Olin F. Farrior, county Extension coordinator for Escambia County, indicated livestock body condition scores continued to be poor in a substantial part of the county’s breeding herd. This was attributed to the lack of feedstuffs available last summer and fall. Kenneth Kelley added that cattle markets were steady to somewhat slower during the past week.
Georgia experienced sunny and cool temperatures last week, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office. Daily average high temperatures fluctuated between the high 60s and low 80s. Average lows were in the 50s most of the week.
Soil moisture conditions were rated at 0 percent very short, 10 percent short, 82 percent adequate, and 8 percent surplus.
Corn planting continued despite some light showers over the weekend.
The task of breaking cotton land was delayed by the wet and cool temperatures.
Wheat and ryegrass looked very good, while bermudagrass was a little further behind.
Overall, planted crops seem to be in good condition.
Other activities included pasture weed control and routine care of livestock and poultry.
County Extension Agents reported an average of 5.3 days suitable for fieldwork.
District 1 — Northwest
April 13 temperature in the 40s.
District 2 — North Central
Pasture weed control — routine care of livestock and poultry are major activities — rain maintaining good soil moisture.
District 3 — Northeast
Received 0.3" of rain over the weekend.
District 5 — Central
Some light showers over the weekend. Corn planting continues. We are starting to begin our planting season now. The rain has been welcomed. We are anxiously awaiting this weekend's cold front to see what will happen in terms of temperature fluctuations. Looking at spraying wheat with fungicides and some insecticides. Corn planting coming along strong.
District 6 — East Central
Staying wet and cool, still trying to finish corn and get started breaking cotton land. Wheat looks very good, probably 85 percent will get a fungicide spray. Ryegrass pastures very good. Bermuda grass trying to come on. Possible freeze tonight.
District 7 — Southwest
Received 0.01" of rainfall Overall, planted crops are good condition.
Warm temperatures and scattered showers were welcomed by most farmers, contributing to a great week for field activities. Precipitation of less than half an inch was scattered throughout the state and increased soil moisture in some areas.
The potato harvest began in the Hastings area. The cool, dry weather in late spring gave a boost to winter wheat in Leon County. Washington County reported corn planting near completion, but some major producers were waiting on changes in soil moisture.
Soil moisture was mostly adequate in the Panhandle and southern Peninsula and short in the Big Bend. The central Peninsula had mostly short topsoil moisture and adequate subsoil moisture.
Vegetable planting was winding down in areas of the Panhandle, while harvesting of spring crops began in areas of the southern Peninsula. Growers in the Fort Myers area harvested collards, peppers, cabbage, and kale. Light volumes of watermelon were harvested in Immokalee.
Hillsborough County reported the end of the strawberry season due to the weather, but Alachua and Bradford counties continued to harvest.
Beans, sweet corn, radishes, squash, celery, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes, and escarole moved through the market.
Last week's wet weather, combined with the previous week's rainfall, have most Tennessee farmers anxiously awaiting a dry spell in order to get started on their field activities. Corn producers, in particular, have witnessed an early setback, as planting was progressing at a pace of two weeks behind normal.
Almost ninety percent of the winter wheat acreage has been top-dressed, and three-fifths of the crop has jointed. The wheat crop was rated in mostly good condition. However, powdery mildew has been reported in a few fields across the state. Also, several counties along the Mississippi River reported flooding, which predominately affected wheat fields.
Apple and peach trees were developing behind the normal pace. The abundant rainfall has provided a boost for pasture and hayfield growth. The state's nursery farmers were busy spraying, planting, and shipping plants.
Other field activities last week included applying pesticides and fertilizer.
There were 3 days suitable for fieldwork last week. As of Friday, topsoil moisture levels were rated 2 percent short, 57 percent adequate, and 41 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 4 percent very short, 9 percent short, 61 percent adequate, and 26 percent surplus.
Temperatures averaged above normal across the state towards the beginning of the week, but were below normal by week's end.
Precipitation averaged above normal for much of the state, except for eastern portions, which were below normal.
COUNTY AGENT COMMENTS
"With all the rain we've had in the county, winter wheat on upland soils is in good condition and most of our river bottom wheat may be lost to the flood. Pastures are in good condition." J.C. Dupree, Jr, Lauderdale County
"Apples and peaches are beginning to bloom. Farmers were spraying weeds on pastures until Friday, when we received over 1 inch of rain. The Tennessee River is out of its banks. Some pasture and hay ground got fertilized this past week." Steve Glass, Decatur County
"Rainfall has improved our overall soil moisture condition. However, we are still dry down deep. This part of the state has not received nearly as much rain as Nashville and westward. Pasture grasses that are living are just now starting to recover. A lot of our pastures are thin and will probably require total re-establishment or renovation this fall. The corn crop is later than normal in getting started due to recent rains and cool temperatures." Dean Northcutt, Coffee County
"Grass looks good but thin in most areas of the county. Weeds look to be abundant in pastures and hay fields. Clover seems to be coming on slowly. Wheat looks good." John Goddard, Loudon County
"Forage crops, fruits and other early growing plants took full advantage of adequate soil moisture and warm temperatures to make excellent growth during the week. Some powdery mildew has been observed on wheat. However, wheat is generally in great condition. Several producers have been applying herbicides to wheat and are making plans to apply a fungicide. The price of wheat grain has spurred interest in taking better care of the crop." Bob Sliger, Monroe County
The week began with relatively little precipitation and increasingly warmer weather. Temperatures fell by the latter part of the week bringing periods of rain and drizzle that lasted through the weekend. Temperatures averaged 58 degrees, 4 degrees above normal for this point in the season.
Total precipitation for the week was 1.07 inches, which was 0.28 inches above normal.
Topsoil moisture was rated as 1 percent short, 29 percent adequate, and 70 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture was rated 3 percent short, 43 percent adequate, and 54 percent surplus.
There were 2.2 days suitable for fieldwork.
The main farming activity for the week was tobacco seeding as the wet weather and soil saturation did not permit much fieldwork.
As of April 13, tobacco plant bed and greenhouse seeding was 84 percent complete. This was 1 percent below the previous year and equal to the five year average. Emergence of transplants reached 55 percent, down 7 percent from last year and down 1 percent from the 5 year average.
Tobacco transplant condition was rated as 3 percent very poor, 2 percent poor, 22 percent fair, 61 percent good, and 12 percent excellent.
Corn planting progress continued to be hampered by wet conditions and showed very little progress from the previous week with 1 percent of intended acreage in the ground. This was down 27 percent from the previous year and down 25 percent from the 5 year average.
Winter wheat condition was rated 1 percent very poor, 3 percent poor, 18 percent fair, 43 percent good, and 35 percent excellent. Barley condition was 1 percent poor, 4 percent fair, 47 percent good, and 48 percent excellent.
Early fruit crops remain in relatively good shape with no freeze damage.
Average height of alfalfa was 7 inches. Pasture condition was 6 percent very poor, 17 percent poor, 37 percent fair, 33 percent good, and 7 percent excellent.
It was a cool week throughout Virginia. The low temperatures hindered small grain progress and delayed corn planting in parts of the state. Days suitable for field work were 4.9. Scattered showers contributed to improved hay and pasture crop conditions. In some parts of the state, rain showers hampered spraying fungicides and herbicides on small grains.
Other farm activities this past week included feeding hay to livestock, preparing for vegetable planting and transplanting, and monitoring small grains for aphid pressure.
REPORTER COMMENTS BY COUNTY
Comments are based on comments reported by extension agents, farmers, commodity specialists, and other knowledgeable individuals.
Rockbridge (Jon Repair) “Forages are beginning to grow as temperatures warm up. Producers are hoping for additional rain this week to keep things moist. Some field work is beginning, but things are off to a slow start. Feed supplies continue to be short. If favorable weather persists, this situation should begin to take care of itself within a week.”
Clarke (Jake Grove) “Cooler weather has held back some small grain and pasture growth.”
Culpeper (Carl Stafford) “Very good spring growth on small grains, hay and pasture stands where fertility is adequate. Otherwise, poor growth is showing up already due to low fertility and dry weather. Corn planting started this week by early birds, while others wait as weather turns cooler. The cattle are actively coming to market in response to poor feed supply.”
Rockingham (Amber D. Vallotton) “Rockingham County received some slow steady rainfall during this recording time. Assuming rainfall continues weekly, the soil moisture should help with germination as corn planting time quickly approaches. In no-till situations with heavy residue cover, the extra moisture may encourage increased slug pressure on new seedlings, so producers should survey fields as new seedlings emerge.”
Brunswick (Cynthia L. Gregg) “The past week had some rain and folks did get some field work accomplished. It was cooler over the weekend with some wind. There has been aphid activity in some small grains. Grass is beginning to show some growth, but still has a long way to go. Hay is in short supply in the area. Some fields are being sprayed to get ready for no-till planting in the area as well.”
Prince George (Scott Reiter) “Many producers are applying fungicides to wheat this week. Powdery mildew has been found in some fields, but not every field scouted. Fungicides are in short supply from area distributors. Very little corn has been planted — producers are waiting for temperatures to moderate before putting too much seed in the ground.
Montgomery (Barry Robinson) “Wheat and barley are progressing well. Hayfields and pastures are in fairly good shape. All crops need significant rain after last week's warm, windy and dry days.”
Smyth (Walter Robinson) “Soil moisture is fine, and most permanent springs are running. Wet weather springs and wells that have gone dry are not replenished at this point; not that wet weather springs contribute too much. However, it is an indication of ground water reserves.”
Amelia (Robyn D. Whittington) “Producers are all thankful for last weeks' rains. Now, the race is on to start planting corn. Some producers are still feeding hay in order to give grass pastures a little more time to grow out from the winter. Small grains are a beautiful black-green ...making use of every ounce of top-dressed nitrogen. Barley is starting to head out.”
Caroline (McGann Saphir) “Grain farmers are top-dressing wheat and barley with fertilizer and applying fungicides to control powdery mildew in the same application. Some small grain fields are also being treated for aphids. Corn producers are killing cover crops and no-tilling corn into those covers (mostly rye and barley). Corn planting is well under way despite cool weather.”
Accomack (Jim Belote) “Some producers were spraying for no-till corn weed control and some advance spraying for full season weed control in soybeans for burn down. Fertilizer is being applied according to soil tests and nutrient management plans. Field work of all types of tillage is being done. Farmers are scouting for insect pests in wheat crop. Potato crop has been planted and looks good. Tomato planting should really pick up steam this week.”
Northumberland (Matt Lewis) “It has been a wet week. Corn planting has been delayed by 5 to 7 days, and growers have not been able to treat wheat diseases with fungicides due to the wet weather. An outbreak of powdery mildew in some wheat varieties necessitates fungicide applications, but there should still be some time to make timely treatments before grain yields are significantly impacted.”
Westmoreland (Sam Johnson) “As fields dried out from weekend rains, corn planting speeded up. Mild temperatures continue to spur small grain growth and most of the crop looks very good. Farmers are checking small grains for insect or disease, but nothing of note yet. Vegetable planting and transplanting is getting in gear. Pastures and hayfields are greening up.”
North Carolina received limited rainfall with the most precipitation recorded in Eden with 1.16 inches of rain.
Mild temperatures dominated the state with the average temperatures ranging from 52 to 64 degrees.
There were 3.9 days suitable for field work, compared to 3.7 the previous week. Statewide soil moisture levels are rated at 1 percent very short, 6 percent short, 72 percent adequate and 21 percent surplus. Activities during the week included planting Irish potatoes and corn, managing tobacco transplants, spreading fertilizer, and other spring planting preparations.
South Carolina had a week of dry weather and growers made good use of the favorable weather. Most of the state received less than an inch of precipitation last week improving working conditions substantially. Soil moisture was 6 percent short, 87 percent adequate, and 7 percent surplus. Favorable weather increased planting, as there was a statewide average of 5.4 days suitable for field work.
Corn planting is nearing two-thirds complete, but is behind last year’s average. Corn improved, and the newly planted crop was in mostly good condition.
Oat heading was ahead of schedule, and the crop was also in mostly good condition.
Tobacco transplanting was ahead of average for this time in the season, and the crop was also in mostly good condition.
Winter wheat continues to look good.
Livestock conditions were little changed from last week remaining mostly good. Pastures were still greening-up and have plenty of moisture for good growth.
Peaches appeared to have little change from last week remaining mostly good.
Vegetable planting continues, and made good use of the favorable weather. Conditions range from fair to good.