Corn and tobacco harvests surged ahead across the Southeast this past week, while growers began bringing in early cotton, soybean and peanut crops in some areas.

Still, dry weather was the big story around the area as the 2007 growing season began to wind down. The drought has greatly reduced yields for this season’s non-irrigated row crops and has made life miserable for livestock producers.

For the week ending Sept. 9, the various state USDA,NASS field offices have supplied the following reports.

Florida

Mostly dry, humid conditions persisted during the week of Sept. 3-9 with only a few scattered showers. Daily high temperatures were mostly in the 90s with Monticello recording at least one daily high at 101.

Most low temperatures were in the 60s and 70s. Temperatures at the major stations hovered around normal to one degree below normal in Jacksonville.

Nearly three inches of rain fell at Frostproof. Over two inches was reported in Jacksonville, Homestead, and Kenansville. Ocklawaha and Tallahassee received over an inch of rainfall. Elsewhere, minimal traces of rainfall fell during the week.

Most areas in Jackson County remained dry with peanut harvesting expected to be late. The exceptions were some earlier planted peanuts to be dug next week. Hot, dry weather during August accelerated maturity of early peanuts and cotton planted, which resulted in poor quality and yields in Santa Rosa and Escambia counties.

Harvesting of corn, peanuts, and cotton was under way in Santa Rosa and Escambia counties. Peanut harvesting was under way in Columbia, Levy, and Marion counties. In Santa Rosa County, some cotton will be defoliated.

Armyworm pressure continued to be a problem in hay fields as well as row crops in Washington County, with fields being sprayed rigorously to control worms. Armyworms started appearing in hay fields in Sumter County this past week.

Despite irrigated corn yields being in good condition, the high cost of irrigation is offsetting record corn prices with growers hoping to break even in Panhandle areas.

Spider mite infestations continued to spread to more fields with growers treating fields continuously in Panhandle areas.

The lack of rainfall is causing mouse ear infestations on some pecans in Panhandle areas. Pecan orchards that have been sprayed and irrigated regularly were still green and in good condition. Orchards without adequate spray programs and irrigation were in poor condition with smaller nuts.

Topsoil moisture across the Panhandle and northern Peninsula was rated very short to short with some spots of adequate supplies. Jackson County reported short to surplus soil moisture supplies. Mostly short to adequate supplies were reported across the central and southern Peninsula localities with some pockets of very short supplies. Hendry County reported adequate to surplus soil moisture supplies.

Vegetable and field crop planting was in high gear in central as well as in southern Peninsula areas with growers welcoming the showers. Growers continued to market light supplies of okra in Dade County.

Dry conditions around the Quincy area allowed the tomato crop to improve with picking to start next month.

Georgia

The weather was warm and extremely dry this past week, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office. Average high temperatures ranged from the upper 80s to the lower 90s. Average low temperatures were in the 60s.

Soil moisture conditions were rated at 29 percent very short, 35 percent short, 33 percent adequate, and 3 percent surplus.

Crop conditions varied widely across the state depending on the amount of rainfall received and whether the crops were irrigated or dryland.

In drier areas, development of peanuts, soybeans, and cotton was slowing down prematurely. Areas with better soil moisture conditions were expecting good peanut, soybean, and cotton crops.

Some cotton was suffering from hardlock or boll-lock. Irrigated corn was yielding well. Some double-cropped tropical corn was not yet mature.

There were reports of armyworms attacking pastures and hayfields. There was some disease pressure in peanuts. Whiteflies were a concern for cotton producers.

The heat wave in August set back most transplanted vegetables, but growth was now occurring with cooler daytime temperatures.

Producers were preparing to plant winter grazing. Other activities included stripping tobacco, cutting hay, applying late season herbicides and fungicides, applying insecticides to crops and hayfields, applying growth regulator on cotton, and harvesting corn.

County Extension Agents reported an average of 6.3 days suitable for fieldwork.

Alabama

A week of rainfall in isolated areas helped to slightly recuperate drought conditions in regions of Alabama during the past week. The U.S. Drought Monitor categorized 61.3 percent of the state’s land as suffering from exceptional drought conditions, a 12.1 percent improvement compared to a week ago. Drought-free conditions were introduced into the state for the first time since the beginning of May in Mobile County.

Temperatures for the week remained above average. Day-time highs ranged from 90 degrees in Sand Mountain to 96 degrees in Hamilton and Anniston. Over-night lows dipped into the 50s, and varied from 58 degrees in Highland Home to 69 degrees in Huntsville, Birmingham, and Mobile.

Rainfall was scattered over the past week. Most weather stations remained dry. Those that received rainfall reported accumulations that ranged from just a trace to well over an inch. Brewton amassed 1.43 inches over a four day period, helping to reduce their year-to-date deficit to 9.11 inches.

The state’s corn harvest surpassed the halfway point during the past week. Donald E. Mann in the Jackson County FSA office mentioned that harvest was progressing very quickly because of the low yields being made.

Thomas D. Atkinson in the Madison County FSA office reported that non-irrigated fields had produced yields that ranged from 30 to 80 bushels per acre. Producers with irrigated fields harvested yields that varied from 150 to 280 bushels per acre.

The condition of Alabama’s soybean crop remained unchanged during the past week, with the majority reported in very poor or poor condition.

Mr. Mann noted that several acres of soybeans in Jackson County were harvested for hay because the yield would have been at or near zero. Mr. Atkinson expected that soybean yields for Madison County would fall between 10 to 20 bushels per acre on non-irrigated land.

Cotton harvest in the northern part of the state began with most of the crop in very poor or poor condition. Early yields harvested in Madison County stretched from 250 to 400 pounds per acre in non-irrigated fields. Producers in Autauga County started defoliant applications, and harvest was expected to begin within the next few weeks.

Peanut farmers remained hopeful, as most of the crop was in fair to excellent condition.

However, John S. Pulliam, Macon County Extension agent, noted that numerous fields had a crop that was pegging in the middle of the row. Producers were hopeful that timely rain showers would help push the crop’s progress forward during the next week.

Very few late-season peaches were being harvested during the past week. The 2007 peach harvest was nearly over, and most growers were glad to move forward.

Bobby Boozer, research horticulturist at the Chilton Research and Extension Center, stated that although the April freeze and summer drought held production to a minimum, the peaches that survived were some of the tastiest ever produced.

Orchard producers were busy planning end of the season chores, such as fertilization for fall and early spring, insecticide sprays for control of peach tree borers, and light pruning for water sprout removal and sanitation.

Pasture conditions were poor for most of the state, and hay had become a scarce commodity. Mr. Pulliam mentioned that some Macon County producers would be able to harvest a partial cutting of hay. Water for livestock was very critical in some regions as natural sources such as streams and ponds were completely dry. The state’s livestock remain in mostly very poor or poor condition, as pasture conditions remained unchanged from a week ago.

Tennessee

Drought conditions continued last week across the state despite scattered showers Wednesday and throughout the weekend.

Pastures continued to be rated in mostly poor to very poor condition, while water shortages were becoming more numerous. On a brighter note, rainfall amounts were above normal for many locations in West Tennessee last week.

Corn harvest continued at a record pace last week, as almost three-fourths of the crop has been harvested. This pace is a full two weeks ahead of the five-year average.

Also ahead of the normal pace by three weeks is cotton and soybean development. Harvest of both these crops has started on a limited basis. Many of the state’s tobacco growers took advantage of the six days suitable for field work last week and were busy topping and harvesting their crop.

Topsoil moisture levels were rated 56 percent very short, 34 percent short, and 10 percent adequate. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 70 percent very short, 27 percent short, and 3 percent adequate. Temperatures were above normal across the state last week, while rainfall was below average across the East and Plateau sections and above normal in the West.

County Agent Comments

“The county received showers on Thursday but by no means enough to impact the drought situation. Cooler temperatures were also welcome. Corn harvest will wind up soon, yield is somewhat better than some thought, but not nearly as good as it might have been. Cotton harvest will get under way next week.” Jerry Parker, Lauderdale County

“Producers are making great progress in harvesting corn. Yields are averaging 100-130 bushels per acre. Low end yields are at 70 bushels per acre with high end yields at 180 bushels per acre. A limited number of soybean acres have been harvested with yields running in the 25 to 30 bushel range. Scattered thundershowers fell across the county with amounts ranging from three tenths to one half inch during the week. Needless to say, it's still very dry.” Jeff Lannom, Weakley County

“We received scattered showers this past week. Have had reports from producers of corn yields ranging from about 70 to right at 100 bushels per acre, but expect several fields to yield lower. Producers are trying to decide what to do with burned up pastures to have some winter forage. Still screening hay for nitrates.” Mitchell Mote, Rutherford County

“Still dry! Cattle herd reduction continues due to little or no pasture and dwindling hay supplies. Corn harvest is progressing well under favorable weather conditions with a wide range of yields.” John Wilson, Marion County

“High temperatures, no rain, along with drying winds have dried up any remaining forage crops. Mid-season to late planted corn and soybeans have essentially been wiped out as for grain yield. We continue to hear reports of wells, springs, and streams drying up. Available water for livestock is a continuing and deteriorating situation. Several livestock producers are hauling water while others are reducing or liquidating their herds. Hay supplies are critically low with most producers feeding hay.” Bob Sliger, Monroe County

South Carolina

South Carolina’s major crops are teetering as to their yield potential due to continuing drought conditions. Many areas have reported none to very little rain. There were some mornings last week with comfortable temperatures providing relief from the extreme heat, but temperatures were still well into the 90s as the days progressed.

The soil moisture average rating for the past week was 29 percent very short, 46 percent short, and 25 percent adequate. There was an average of 6.5 days that were suitable for field work.

Corn continued to be harvested. Corn condition for the week was 2 percent very poor, 21 percent poor, 47 percent fair, 26 percent good, and 4 percent excellent.

A small number of cotton growers applied defoliants for the first time last week. Stink bug and larvae pest activity has been at a minimum with little or no controls being applied. The cotton condition was 11 percent very poor, 31 percent poor, 39 percent fair, 17 percent good and 2 percent excellent.

The lack of significant rain has caused peanuts to suffer. The condition was 1 percent very poor, 9 percent poor, 57 percent fair, 28 percent good, and 5 percent excellent.

A few velvetbean caterpillars were being found in soybeans, but no controls were being applied. The condition of the crop was 13 percent very poor, 26 percent poor, 49 percent fair, 11 percent good, and 1 percent excellent.

Tobacco was still being harvested this past week.

Livestock continued to be sold because of the lack of hay and poor pastures.

Peach farmers continued to harvest late varieties as the season comes to a close. The apple harvest continued with poor yields. The condition was unchanged, remaining in very poor to fair condition.

Growers across the state are waiting for rain before beginning their winter grazing plantings.

North Carolina

North Carolina continued to experience drought conditions across the entire state. Above normal temperatures also continued to dominate the state with highs ranging from 74 to 99 degrees.

Rainfall was virtually non-existent with Greenville having the most rain, 0.45 inches.

There were 6.6 days suitable for field work compared to 6.5 from the previous week. Statewide soil moisture levels are rated at 66 percent very short, 27 percent short, 7 percent adequate, and 0 percent surplus.

Activities during the week included the harvesting of corn for grain, corn for silage, apples, peaches, hay, burley tobacco, flue-cured tobacco, and sorghum. Other activities included the scouting for pest and disease problems.

Virginia

Conditions remained hot and dry for another consecutive week in the Commonwealth. Days suitable for work were 6.9. Topsoil moisture was generally short. Pastures and hayfields continue to diminish in condition. Winter hay stocks continue to be fed to livestock. Cattle are being marketed at much higher numbers than normal for this time of year. Many producers have culled their herd to ease the strain on feed stocks.

Corn is the only crop presently benefiting from the hot and dry conditions as dry down continues. The grain corn harvest continues. Producers who planted early varieties are reporting better than expected yields in some areas.

Soybeans are in need of precipitation to continue filling the pods that are already set.

Some flue-cured tobacco is beginning to be stripped, and burley harvest is nearing completion in some areas.

Other activities this past week included scouting and spraying for corn earworm and aphids in soybeans, getting ready to plant small grains, and preparing for strawberry planting.