Outside of areas slowed by rainfall, corn planting in the Southeast was pretty much complete during the week ending May 4, and much of the crop was up to a stand.

Cotton, peanut and soybean planting made significant progress and a good looking wheat crop moved closer to maturity.

Weather was once again making headlines across the area, with portions of the lower Southeast looking for much needed rainfall, while states in the upper reaches were working around much-appreciated moisture.

In Virginia, some agricultural damage was attributed to tornadoes and heavy rainfall which struck the Commonwealth.

Here’s a look at the overall situation as reported by the various USDA/NASS state offices.

Alabama

A storm system brought beneficial rainfall to most of Alabama during the latter part of the past week. However, most weather stations across the state had year-to-date precipitation totals that remained below normal for this time of year.

Temperatures across the state were cooler than normal, falling to as many as 6 degrees below average in Guntersville, Talladega, Opelika, Troy, and Highland Home. Daytime highs ranged from 78 degrees in Cullman to 86 degrees in Geneva, Headland, and Dothan. Overnight lows varied from 35 degrees in Hamilton and Highland Home to 46 degrees in Mobile, Headland, and Dothan.

All weather stations reported receiving rainfall, with Guntersville totaling 2.45 inches over a period of four days.

Alabama producers spent time planting cotton and peanuts, applying herbicides and fertilizers to corn and cotton, and preparing to harvest winter wheat, and harvesting their first cutting of hay during the past week.

As harvest neared, the state’s winter wheat crop remained in mostly good to excellent condition during the past week.

Alex Brand, county executive director in the Wilcox County FSA office, stated that wheat stands in the area were maturing, and beginning to dry.

Producers were expected to begin harvesting their wheat crop within the next three weeks.

Overall, Alabama’s corn crop lingered in good to excellent condition. Cindy Owens, county executive director in the Fayette County FSA office, mentioned that producers were side-dressing corn with fertilizer.

Olin F. Farrior, county Extension coordinator in Escambia County, reported that cotton producers have spent time discussing marketing plans for their cotton crop. The difference between prices seen on the Chicago Board of Trade and prices received by farmers at the local level was high. This left some Alabama cotton farmers struggling to market this year’s crop.

Soybean producers were busy in their fields. Planting progress pushed ahead of last year and the five-year average. Cindy Owens noted that some Group V soybeans were planted in Fayette County. Those that emerged during the past week looked very good.

Peanut planting was under way in Districts 40, 50, and 60.

Rainfall was adequate, and no major fruit/vegetable pest problems had been detected in the central part of the state. Plum curculio numbers remained low, but steady. Larvae were seen exiting small, infested fruit, and entering the soil. Adult emergence was expected to occur in approximately four weeks, or during the week of May 26.

Bobby Boozer, research horticulturist at the Chilton Research and Extension Center, indicated that peach fruit were growing well, especially in orchards that were thinned early either by the freeze in late March, or by hand. A high number of aborted fruit was observed in trees that set a heavy crop and had slow leaf development.

Orchard producers were wrapping up hand thinning operations, and continued pest management activities.

Alabama pasture conditions showed slight improvement during the past week, but more rainfall was needed to allow for additional growth.

Henry Dorough, regional Extension agent located in Talladega County, mentioned that more producers in the area were focusing on weed control as a means of improving pasture quality due to the high cost of fertilizers. Producers began harvesting the year’s first cutting of hay. However, baling was slowed in some areas because of rain showers late in the week.

Livestock were reported in better condition, as more nutritious feedstuffs have become available this spring.

Florida

High temperatures were mostly in the mid to upper 80s, with Avalon, Ocklawaha, and Lake Alfred reaching the low 90s. The average temperatures reported in the major cities ranged from normal to 3 degrees below normal. Lows for the week ranged from the 40s in several Panhandle counties, such as Jefferson and Jackson, to the upper 60s in southern counties such as Dade and Broward.

Many areas throughout the state received little or no rain last week, especially in central and southern areas.

Almost all locations reported less than a third of an inch. Counties reporting the most precipitation for the week were Suwannee, Baker, Alachua, and Santa Rosa with 0.40, 0.42, 0.69, and 0.91 of an inch, respectively.

Peanut planting progress is 12 percent completed. Last year, peanut planting was 9 percent finished by this date.

Land preparation and spring planting continued in the Panhandle and Big Bend with soil moisture levels short to adequate. Peanut and cotton planting were under way in Jackson County. Much needed showers in several Panhandle counties contributed to increased soil moisture and seed germination.

Central and southern counties continued to see no measurable rain for crops, leaving soil moisture short to very short. Indian River County reported watering restrictions due to a continued lack of rain.

Gadsden County reported all tomatoes being planted and in good condition. Although southern counties did not receive much rainfall last week, rainy and cool conditions from previous weeks may have affected pollination of the watermelon crop.

Watermelon growers in Hendry County reported low yields for the week of April 28 through May 4. The following vegetables moved through the market last week: Snap beans, celery, cabbage, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, escarole, okra, peas, peppers, radishes, squash, and tomatoes.

Georgia

Dry conditions continued for much of Georgia, with little to no rainfall according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office.

Daily average high temperatures fluctuated between the high-60s and high-80s. Average lows were in the 50s most of the week.

Soil moisture conditions were rated at 7 percent very short, 42 percent short, 50 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus.

Soil moisture vanished faster than it appeared, with ponds not having the opportunity to re-charge.

The below normal cold temperatures mid-week caused light frost in some areas. Farmers irrigated wheat, oats, corn and watermelons during the week. Cattle producers continued to feed supplemental hay as grass continued to be in short supply. Where grass was available, cattle began to gain weight. Some hay producers cut their first cutting of hay.

Corn planting was near completion.

Other activities included applying poultry litter and spreading chemicals and fertilizer.

Cotton stands, tobacco transplants and corn were looking good due to light and timely rains. County Extension agents reported an average of 6.2 days suitable for fieldwork.

DISTRICT COMMENTS

District 1 — Northwest

“Good rainfall on Saturday. It had become extremely dry once again. Earlier rains helped, but ponds are beginning to go dry once more, especially the watershed ponds.”

District 4 — West Central

“Need rain! Hay equipment preparation and some baling of ryegrass, oats, and clover. Hay is being fed, pastures are slow to do anything. Soil moisture vanishes faster than it appears and ponds have not re-charged.”

District 5 — Central

“Needing rain! Had some cold morning temperatures mid-week. Some light frost in some areas. Corn planting nearing completion. Pasture and hayfield conditions improving slightly. Some hay producers cutting their first cutting of hay. We received 0.20 inches of rain on Sunday and 0.91 inches on Monday. We have begun planting of some crops. Overall, conditions are looking fairly good in the county. Farmers irrigated wheat, oats, corn, and watermelons this past week. Cattle farmers are still feeding hay due to the lack of grazing.”

District 6 — East Central

“Losing soil moisture rapidly just as cotton planting has begun. A few early soybeans, Group IV and Group V have been planted but most will be later groups planted in late May. Wheat disease threat is over and crop looks very good. Probably enough moisture to make good yield even if May is dry. Cattle putting on weight as grass comes out, still too cool at night for a lot of Bermuda growth. Most corn reaching V4-V6 stage.”

District 7 — Southwest

“Received 0.40 of an inch of rainfall. Peanut planting increased. No problems with wheat crop (aphid population slight increase). Cotton stands look good due to light but timely rains. Peanut planting delayed this past week due to cold front with below normal temperatures.”

District 8 — South Central

“Dry and need rainfall. Wheat yields are being hurt by drought. Tobacco transplants look good but need rain. No TSWV as of yet. Planting cotton and preparing land to plant. Applying poultry litter and spreading chemicals and fertilizer. Some side dressing tobacco. Much dryland cotton and peanut land has been planted over the past week. Soil moisture was good, so farmers planted with the anticipation that (a) it would rain and planting might be delayed for a few days or (b) it would not rain and stand establishment would be difficult. It didn't rain.”

District 9 — Southeast

“Rain needed for pastures, hay fields and row crops.”

Tennessee

Producers took advantage of improved soil conditions at mid-week to advance corn planting to three-fourths completed. Wet conditions returned by week's end, however, limiting cotton and soybean plantings, keeping planting progress behind last year and the normal pace.

Tobacco transplanting was also hindered due to wet fields.

The wheat crop was rated in good-to-excellent condition with some disease problems reported.

Cattle continued to be reported in mostly good condition, while hay was rated in fair-to-good condition. Hay stocks were rated as 28 percent very short, 39 percent short, and 33 percent adequate.

Other agricultural activities taking place last week included harvesting hay and strawberries, and applying pesticides and fertilizers.

There were 5 days suitable for fieldwork last week. As of Friday, topsoil moisture levels were rated 9 percent short, 80 percent adequate, and 11 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 2 percent very short, 17 percent short, 72 percent adequate, and 9 percent surplus.

Temperatures averaged slightly below normal across Tennessee last week.

Rainfall was below normal across the Plateau and eastern portions of the state, while western and middle areas ranged from slightly above to above normal.

COUNTY AGENT COMMENTS

"Producers have made great progress the past 7 days with corn planting. However, a few more acres will be planted from now until the 10th of May. Some grain sorghum planting has begun this week. A few acres of early soybeans have also been planted. Most cotton ground has been burned down and waiting for warmer weather for planting. Wheat continues to progress fairly well. Fungicide applications are being applied as weather and wind allow. Expect many acres to be headed over the next 7 to 10 days." Tim Campbell, Dyer County

"Another week of cool, wet weather hampered corn planting across Weakley County. Producers were able to take advantage of drying conditions mid-week to advance corn planting to 70 percent completed. Producers were also busy applying fungicides to wheat, fertilizer to pastures and fields being planted to corn. Burndown herbicides were also applied to corn and soybean fields. Light disease pressure is being found in wheat. Some producers were able to make a cutting of wheat for hay before the next rain event occurs." Jeff Lannom, Weakley County

"Things are starting to look normal for a change. Wheat is doing very good overall. Some Barley Yellow Dwarf has been seen in some late planted wheat. Corn crop is about planted and is emerging well. Some may have to be replanted due to cutworms but, overall, crop is good at this point." Dean Northcutt, Coffee County

"Some hay was cut over the weekend. There was little, if any rain. Farmers were busy in fields spraying, as well as planting soybeans and corn. Farmers market has lots of bedding plants, ornamentals available. Lots of gardens will be planted this week. Need a good shower." J. Dale Beaty, Warren County

"Light to moderate frost was experienced across the county earlier this week. However, no major damage has been reported. Pasture and hay growth is still sluggish along with increasing evidence of loss of forage stand during 2007. Expected yield of first-cutting hay appears it may be marginal. Emerged corn is taking full advantage of this week's rain and looks vigorous." John Wilson, Blount County

Kentucky

Below normal temperatures and above normal rainfall prevailed across the Commonwealth this past week. Temperatures for the week averaged 56 degrees across the state which was 4 degrees below normal.

Total precipitation for the week was 1.48 inches statewide, which was 0.30 inches above normal.

Topsoil moisture was rated as 1 percent very short, 9 percent short, 76 percent adequate, and 14 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture was rated 1 percent very short, 7 percent short, 79 percent adequate, and 13 percent surplus. There were 5.3 days suitable for fieldwork.

The primary farming activities for the week were planting corn and soybeans, applying fertilizer, preparing soil for planting, setting tobacco and spraying weeds.

As of Sunday May 4, 29 percent of tobacco plants were less than 2 inches in height, 39 percent were 2 to 4 inches tall, and 32 percent were taller than 4 inches.

Only 1 percent of the burley tobacco acreage had been set compared to 6 percent the previous year. Three percent of dark tobacco had been set, equal to 2007.

Corn planting saw significant progress last week while it still continued to trail last year and the five-year average. As of Sunday May 4, 54 percent of the intended corn acreage had been planted compared to 74 percent last year and 76 percent for the five-year average.

Last week 31 percent of the corn acreage had been planted. Corn emergence was reported at 18 percent, up from last week’s 4 percent while below last year’s 45 percent and the five year average of 51 percent.

The condition of the emerged corn crop was rated 23 percent fair, 64 percent good, and 13 percent excellent.

Farmers were slowly starting to plant soybeans. As of Sunday 5 percent had been planted which was the same as last year, but behind the five-year average of 8 percent.

The winter wheat crop headed or heading as of Sunday was 22 percent, behind last year’s 44 percent and the five year-average of 50 percent. Wheat condition was rated 1 percent very poor, 3 percent poor, 21 percent fair, 47 percent good, and 28 percent excellent.

Some lodging was reported following the rain and winds this past Friday.

Hay crops were rated 3 percent very poor, 10 percent poor, 31 percent fair, 49 percent good, and 7 percent excellent. Farmers expect the first date of alfalfa cutting to be around May 9. Only a few reports of alfalfa weevil have been received. As of May 4, pasture condition was rated 3 percent very poor, 12 percent poor, 37 percent fair, 42 percent good, and 6 percent excellent.

North Carolina

Most of North Carolina received rain this past week with Aurora recording 2.62 inches. Average temperatures ranged between 51 to 66 degrees. Topsoil moisture in the mountain region is becoming dry while the coastal region is still drying up from the recent rain events.

There were 5 days suitable for field work, compared to 4.4 the previous week. Statewide soil moisture levels are rated at 1 percent very short, 13 percent short, 77 percent adequate and 9 percent surplus.

Activities during the week included the planting of corn, sorghum, cotton, flue-cured and burley tobacco, spreading of fertilizer and chemicals, and other spring planting preparations.

South Carolina

Although most of South Carolina received rainfall again this past week, totals in many areas were below average for the period.

Scattered frost occurring mid-week did not cause any significant crop damage. The majority of the state’s crops were in fair to good condition.

Warm weather and breezy winds quickly removed moisture by week’s end. Soil moisture was 10 percent very short, 33 percent short, 56 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus. There was a statewide average of 6.1 days that were suitable for field work.

Corn planting is nearly complete for 2008. The condition of the crop was mostly good.

Oats are now turning color. The crop remains in mostly good condition.

Peanut planting has begun.

Most of the state had some rain, allowing soybean planting to continue. Planting should pick up this week if the forecast remains accurate.

Most of the tobacco crop has been set in the ground. Present conditions are looking very good right now.

Winter wheat was also turning color. Farmers were still spraying fields. There are Hessian fly problems in certain fields that are causing the wheat to lodge which could result in yield loss.

Livestock conditions ranged from poor to excellent with most producers reporting their animals as being fair to good. Pasture growth is still increasing. Conditions improved somewhat from the previous week with the rainfall. Producers were continuing to bale grain hay. Conditions are vastly improved from last year.

Peach conditions improved slightly from last week. Vegetable planting is beginning to wind down. Conditions of the crops vary widely depending on how much rain they have been able to receive.

Virginia

Several tornados in the southeastern part of the state caused agriculture damage. The damage included downed fences, fallen trees, destroyed barns, and at least one homestead was destroyed.

There was rain throughout most of the Commonwealth, with heavier rains in the tornado stricken areas. Days suitable for fieldwork were 5.2. Wet fields delayed fieldwork in some areas. However, overall progress was made on soybean and corn plantings.

Other farming activities this past week included preparing for hay harvest, preparing to harvest small grains, managing u-pick strawberry operations, and planting vegetables.

REPORTER COMMENTS BY COUNTY

Comments are based on comments reported by extension agents, farmers, commodity specialists, and other knowledgeable individuals.

WESTERN

Rockbridge (Jon Repair) “Welcomed rains and colder temperatures have delayed corn planting and slowed forage growth. The hay crop is growing and will be ready to cut in approximately 7-10 days. All indications to date are that yields will be lower than normal. Most livestock except dairy are being fed solely on pastures. This is mainly due to the depletion of stored feed supplies. However, pastures are struggling to maintain adequate growth to meet livestock needs

and demands due to colder air and soil temperatures.

SOUTHEASTERN

Brunswick (Cynthia L. Gregg) “The tornado last week did quite a bit of agriculture damage here. We have trees down, fences down, some barns, outbuildings, etc are roofless or down. Folks are working on their fences to keep the livestock in. Barley is being chopped for haylage over the weekend. Some hay has been put on the ground to be baled early this week.

Prince George (Scott Reiter) “Some field work has resumed after the 7-8 inch rains over the past 2 weeks. Many are trying to finish burndown sprays on soybean fields to allow timely planting. It will be a struggle to finish planting corn by mid-May. Some fields planted prior to the heavy rains will need to be replanted due to rotting seed and drowned areas. The wheat crop continues to look good with minimal damage from the recent weather. The hay crop looks good as well, but early cuttings are being delayed by the wet conditions.

Surry (Glenn Slade) “Tornadoes brought some rain and destroyed one house here in Surry. Crop planting is behind schedule due to cool wet weather through April. Farmers are busy planting cotton and ‘gasing’ peanut land. Corn planting is about complete.

Chesapeake City (Watson Lawrence) “Another storm with tornado winds passed just west and north of here adding another 1 to 1.5 inches of rain last Monday. No tornado damage here. Rain, coupled with last week's, was 3 inches. This kept farmers out of fields most of this week. Corn planting is a week behind schedule, but groundwater supplies are much better now. Wheat has enough rain to mature a bumper crop if disease and insect problems hold off. Strawberry u-pick farms are all open now.

SOUTHWESTERN

Scott (Scott Jerrell) “Cool weather and frost the past few weeks have bitten some more succulent plants, but apples, peaches, and strawberries seem to have survived. Strawberry harvest is going well, with large berries for this time of year. Beans, cucumbers, and squash have been planted and are making a strong showing early. Cattle have fared decently, with most farmers limit feeding hay and supplementing with grain. Sheep continue to hold steady.

CENTRAL

Caroline (McGann Saphir) “Soil moisture is very good. Hopefully more rain will come as the season progresses. Small grain crops, corn, and hay crops are all looking good and have benefited greatly from the abundant rain in April. Producers are finishing up corn planting and beginning to plant full-season soybeans. Combines are being cleaned up and readied for the small grain harvest.

EASTERN

Accomack (Jim Belote) “Corn planting should be complete in a week to 10 days if the weather holds up. A fairly good spring so far with good planting conditions for no-till crops. Soybean planting should start this week, but will be a little later overall since most soybeans will be no-till. Producers continued planting and staking the tomato crop. Active scouting in all crops planted. Wheat crop looks good. Farmers spraying herbicides for no-till crops and applying potash mostly for soybeans.

Middlesex (David Moore) “Rainy weather halted corn planting earlier in the week. Planters began rolling again by Thursday. Still have some lowland acres to plant. Wheat scouting continues. Most wheat is looking good and out of the woods as far as disease. There seems to be some slight damage to wheat and barley from the frosts about 2 weeks ago, but nothing major. Wheat is heading and flowering. Some last minute applications of fungicides still going on. Soybean fields are being prepped for planting. Soybean delivery continues. Sweet corn has been planted along with some cucumbers. Haymaking will begin next week. Hay fields look good and should yield well as long as we get good curing weather. Cool temperatures right now. April has been generous with the rain and has put us on the way to getting out of the moisture deficit that we were previously in.

SOUTHERN

Pittsylvania (Jamie Stowe) “Recent rains have slowed tobacco planting. Small grains are looking better from recent rains. Tobacco planting should be complete by the end of this week. Pasture and hay lands are looking better and experiencing some growth, but it appears that growth is stunted and yields will probably be lower than normal.