Parts of Florida got wet from Tropical Storm Noel during the week ending Nov. 4, but for the most part the Southeast remained dry and row crop harvest continued at a rapid pace.

Parched soils soaked up recent rains, but the moisture did allow for small grain planting to progress and pastures to green-up somewhat.

Here’s how the various state USDA, NASS field offices reported the situation for the week ending Nov. 4.

Georgia

It was an extremely dry week with no significant rainfall reported anywhere in the state, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office. Average high temperatures were in the mid-60s to the upper 70s.

Average lows ranged from the lower 40s to the mid-50s. Soil moisture conditions were rated at 34 percent very short, 39 percent short, 27 percent adequate, and 3 percent surplus.

Drought conditions worsened this past week, negatively affecting pastures and crops. Hay feeding to livestock increased. Water levels in ponds and streams continued to decline. The lack of rain delayed planting in some areas. In other areas, those with better soil moisture levels, small grains were being planted. Some farmers had to irrigate small grains after planting to trigger germination. Green bean discoloration problems were reported. On a positive note, weather conditions were favorable for long harvest days this past week.

Pecan orchards were being prepared for harvest. Despite the drought, growers expect to have a good pecan crop.

Other activities included mowing cotton stalks and harrowing, digging and combining peanuts, defoliation and harvest of cotton, cutting and baling hay, and hauling peanut hay to storage.

County Extension agents reported an average of 6.6 days suitable for fieldwork.

Alabama

During a week with no reported rainfall and generally warmer than normal temperatures, producers watched as the parched soil quickly absorbed all the moisture that had fallen during previous weeks.

Russell C. Parrish, Jr., Crenshaw County Extension agent, stated the soil soaked up the five plus inches of rain that fell in the county during the previous week in no time, and that farmers could certainly use more rain.

All weather stations reported receiving no rainfall accumulation during the past week, leaving producers plenty of dry days to spend harvesting the remainder of their crops.

Temperatures varied from just below to just above normal for this time of year. Daytime highs ranged from 72 degrees in Sand Mountain to 82 degrees in Dothan. Overnight lows dipped to below freezing in some areas, and reached a very chilly 30 degrees in Hamilton.

Several county reporters indicated that the first frosts of the season happened in low lying areas.

Farmers continued small grain seedbed preparation, and spent time sowing their wheat crops. The state’s soybean harvest moved forward in a big way during the past week, with nearly three-quarters of the crop already out of the field. Progress remained behind last year, but well ahead of the five-year average.

Cotton was harvested at a fast pace during the past week, as progress remained ahead of last year and well ahead of the five-year average.

Leonard Kuykendall, Autauga County Extension agent, reported that producers in the county have seen bad yields, with the average yield not being more than one half of a bale per acre.

Peanut harvest continued at a fast tempo, keeping progress nearly 10 percent ahead of the previous year, but still well behind the five-year average.

The state’s pasture condition remained virtually unchanged during the past week, with the majority reported as very poor or poor. John S. Pulliam, Macon County Extension agent, mentioned the lack of rain was seriously affecting the county’s hay and row crop yields.

Producers in Macon County were also reported as still reducing the size of their cattle herds because of the drought. Most of Alabama’s livestock were reported in very poor or poor condition, unchanged from a week ago.

Florida

Light rains and gusty winds from Tropical Storm Noel slowed field work in parts of the southern Peninsula during the week of Oct. 29 through Nov. 4. Noel formed in the Atlantic and impacted the southern Peninsula mid-week, then proceeded north just off the eastern coast.

Some northeastern and central Peninsula localities, mainly along the Atlantic coast, received outer rain bands from Noel. Rainfall ranged from none in Pensacola to nearly two and a quarter inches in Miami. Several areas received no rainfall or minimal traces for the week. Areas receiving over one inch of precipitation included Daytona Beach, Homestead, Kenansville, and West Palm Beach. Pierson and Orlando received nearly an inch of rain.

Overcast skies kept most temperatures one to four degrees above normal in the major cities. Pleasant daytime highs were in the 70s and 80s. Cooler evening lows were in the 50s and 60s with some areas experiencing at least one low in the 40s. Alachua and Kenansville reported one low in the 30s.

Tropical Storm Noel missed the Panhandle and areas of the northern Peninsula which allowed growers to continue harvesting field crops. Growers continued hay making with some problems of excess moisture in central Peninsula localities. The hay supply was expected to be shorter this year due to the unfavorable weather conditions this season. Armyworms continue to destroy hay fields in Baker County. Harvesting proceeded at a steady pace in Washington County with cotton harvest in full swing.

The cotton crop in areas of Santa Rosa County continued to deteriorate with most of the crop on the ground. Some peanuts were lying on top of the ground with the rains too late to aid the crop in Santa Rosa County.

The heavy rains during late October aided the growth of the late planted peanuts but picking was delayed up to two weeks in some areas of Jefferson County. If clear conditions persist, Jefferson County growers anticipated completing peanut harvesting within two weeks. Statewide, peanut crop condition was rated 3 percent very poor, 35 percent poor, 22 percent fair, and 40 percent good.

Soil moisture supplies in the Panhandle and northern Peninsula were rated mostly short to adequate with a few pockets of very short supplies. Soil moisture supplies throughout areas in the central and southern Peninsula recorded mostly short to adequate with some areas of surplus supplies.

Tropical Strom Noel interrupted some vegetable field work in southern Peninsula localities due to high, gusty winds and rains by mid-week. Strong winds in Sumter County caused some damage to squash. Harvesting of most vegetables was under way with windy, wet weather increasing disease pressure in parts of Hendry County.

Growers in southern Peninsula areas expected to begin harvesting radishes next week. Harvesting of tomatoes was active in Gadsden County. There were still reports of significant white flies in the Panhandle. Planting of strawberries in Palatka continued with growers irrigating as needed due to extremely dry conditions. Windy conditions from Noel caused bloom-drop on some vegetables in Pompano.

Despite rains, harvesting remained on schedule for watermelons, bell peppers, and cucumbers in Suwannee Valley; green bean yields continue to be low. Harvesting was off to a slow start in Wauchula with planting of strawberries under way. Growers in Wauchula finished planting snap beans, bell peppers, cantaloupes, cucumbers, tomatoes, and harvesting squash. Producers marketed light supplies of snap beans, Chinese cabbage, cucumbers, eggplant, squash, and tomatoes.

In the Panhandle, pasture condition was very poor to excellent with most good; cattle condition was fair to excellent. Planting of winter graze small grains in Jefferson County was delayed due to dry soil condition. In Santa Rosa County, grass growth was not keeping up with grazing. In the northern areas, pasture condition was fair to excellent with most fair.

There was notable armyworm damage in many hay fields and pastures in Baker County. In central areas, pasture condition was poor to excellent with most good and cattle condition was fair to excellent with most in good condition. Some hay harvesting was under way. Cooler weather had slowed grass growth.

In the southwestern areas, pasture and cattle conditions were very poor to excellent with most in fair condition. In De Soto County, fields were being readied to plant fall ryegrass for forage.

Tennessee

Tennessee's cotton and soybean growers were winding down fall harvest last week. Over three-fourths of the soybean acreage has been harvested, on-schedule with last year, but over a week ahead of normal. Only 10 percent of the cotton acreage was left to be harvested at week's end. This rapid pace is two and a half weeks ahead of the 5-year average.

Three-fifths of the 2008 winter wheat crop has been seeded, on-pace with the 5-year average. Lack of moisture last week continued to delay pasture growth, tobacco market preparations, and winter wheat germination.

Other activities last week included watering nursery stock, cutting hay in some areas, and feeding hay and hauling water to livestock. Cattle were rated in mostly fair-to-good condition, while hay stocks were rated 33 percent very short, 43 percent short, 22 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus.

With no rainfall reported last week, farmers had 6 days considered suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture levels were rated 18 percent very short, 24 percent short, 56 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus.

Subsoil moisture levels were rated 35 percent very short, 34 percent short, and 31 percent adequate.

Temperatures last week averaged near normal across the State.

County Agent Comments

"Producers were working hard to finish up soybean and cotton harvest and plant more wheat. Current good weather conditions should allow all three activities to be basically complete by the end of this week or early to mid-week next week. Wheat that is up is looking good so far." Tim Campbell, Dyer County

"Producers made good use of drying weather conditions and increased acres of wheat seeded. Combines started to roll mid-week in soybean fields and continue to press toward completion of this year's harvest." Jeff Lannom, Weakley County

"Some late planted soybeans are still too green to harvest and the farmers with them would like to see a frost to dry them up. Last weeks rain helped a lot, it started some creeks back to running and put some water back into ponds and greened up pastures, but we still have ponds and streams that are low. By all accounts we're in better shape than some, but we still need rain." Mitchell Mote, Rutherford County

"Continued dry with slightly above normal temperatures. Harvest has resumed after dismal weather the previous week that kept farmers out of the fields and very little rain. Wheat planting activities have increased, farmers still waiting on good moisture. Soybean and cotton harvest continues with yields about half of expectations. Hay stocks still tight, with a lot of producers wondering if they have enough feed stocks and/or water to outlast the drought." Ed Burns, Franklin County

"No rains during the week and drought problems continue to mount. Limited hay supplies are being used to supplement depleted pastures. Available water for livestock continues to be a major concern for cattle producers as wells, springs and streams are failing. Producers are continuing to reduce and/or liquidate cattle numbers. Row crop producers are making good progress with crop harvest. Late planted beans are essentially a total loss. Lack of moisture has practically stopped fall seeding." Bob Sliger, Monroe County

"Cows are for sale. Various breeds and crosses. Cow calf pairs, bred cows, open cows, bred heifers, and open heifers. This is the news for Claiborne County until we get enough rainfall to re-establish our ground water and soil moisture. We have already sold a lot of cattle because of forage shortage in pastures, now; more will be sold because of short hay reserves." Mike Heiskell, Claiborne County

South Carolina

South Carolina continued seeing drought conditions last week. The lack of rainfall allowed rapid harvesting progress for cotton, peanut and soybean growers. Rainfall is desperately needed to re-charge soils and ponds. Most small grain producers are waiting for rain before they can continue planting wheat, oats and rye. Irrigation ponds remain low.

Soil moisture for the week was very dry with average ratings of 35 percent very short, 47 percent short, and 18 percent adequate. The statewide average of days suitable for field work was 6.6.

Cotton harvest was well under way at 70 percent complete. The cotton condition was 25 percent very poor, 26 percent poor, 37 percent fair, and 12 percent good.

Oat planting decelerated awaiting rain.

The peanut harvest was moving rapidly with variable yields reported.

Most of the soybean crop leaves have already turned color and fallen or begun to fall. The condition of the crop was 27 percent very poor, 24 percent poor, 40 percent fair, and 9 percent good.

Sweet potato harvest was nearing completion.

Winter wheat planting also decelerated awaiting rain.

Livestock conditions were 6 percent very poor, 16 percent poor, 45 percent fair, and 33 percent good. Pasture conditions were 22 percent very poor, 44 percent poor, 27 percent fair, and 7 percent good.

As with the small grains, winter grazings did not move ahead as anticipated due to lack of rain.

North Carolina

North Carolina experienced an extremely dry week with below average temperatures. Virtually no rainfall was reported during the week. Average temperatures ranged from 43 to 60 degrees.

There were 5.9 days suitable for field work, compared to 3.9 from the previous week. Statewide soil moisture levels are rated at 22 percent very short, 33 percent short, 44 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus.

Activities during the week included the harvesting of cotton, sweet potatoes, soybeans, and peanuts. Other activities included the planting of small grains.

Virginia

Conditions across the Commonwealth have begun to greatly improve as a result of rain received in the prior week. Days suitable for work were 6.2. Topsoil moisture was generally adequate. Pastures have attempted to recover due to the moisture, but killing frosts have slowed regrowth considerably.

Livestock producers are still continuing to cull herds and locate supplemental feed supplies.

The soybean harvest continued. Yields are reported as being average.

With the increase in soil moisture, producers have begun to move farther along in small grains planting. Producers that began planting early have seen an increase in emergence over the past week. The cotton harvest also advanced this week.

Other activities this past week included land preparation for small grain planting, soil sampling, liming, and scouting newly planted wheat and barley.

Kentucky

Temperatures were 5 degrees below normal across the state, averaging 49 degrees. Rainfall for the week totaled 0.00 inches which was 0.65 inches below normal. There were 5.6 days suitable for fieldwork. Main farm activities were harvesting corn and soybeans, planting winter wheat, and stripping tobacco.

Topsoil moisture was rated 12 percent very short, 26 percent short, 55 percent adequate, and 7 percent surplus as of Sunday, Nov. 4. Subsoil moisture was rated 30 percent very short, 34 percent short, 34 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus.

Tobacco: The rainfall from two weeks ago has continued to help the quality and color of stripped tobacco. The condition of stripped tobacco was reported as 2 percent very poor, 12 percent poor, 34 percent fair, 44 percent good and 8 percent excellent. Thirty-six percent of burley tobacco had been stripped compared to 33 percent last year and 36 percent for the five year average.

Corn: The corn harvest was virtually finished with 99 percent of the crop combined as of Sunday, Nov. 4. This continued well ahead of the 93 percent harvested last year and the five year average of 96 percent. Farmers report yield varies greatly from county to county and even within counties.

Soybeans Soybean harvest surged ahead with the dry weather and was 84 percent complete as of Sunday, Nov. 4. This is well ahead of last year’s 64 percent and the five year average of 69 percent.

Other crops and pasture: As of Sunday, Nov. 4, 81 percent of winter wheat was seeded, ahead of the 72 percent seeded last year and 70 percent for the five year average.

Germinated winter wheat was in mostly good to excellent condition after the much needed rainfall received two weeks ago. Pasture condition was rated 29 percent very poor, 25 percent poor, 32 percent fair, 13 percent good, and 1 percent excellent. The rains helped to green up the pastures which allowed producers to put their livestock out for some fall grazing.