“The result was some growers got behind on their fungicide program and just never caught up,” he says.

In some cases growers faced physiological problems on crops that they had never seen before. Stem split on peanuts, which was most likely caused indirectly by the excessive rainfall, showed up sporadically in peanut fields in the Southeast.

Some fields in Georgia were leveled by the phenomena and a few in South Carolina.

In North Carolina, a number of soybean growers reported burn on plants they couldn’t explain. In some cases, says North Carolina State Plant Pathologist Steve Koenning, the burn was likely caused by physiological conditions within the plant.

Soybeans in several areas hit by excessive rainfall this summer exhibited a symptom referred to as “Physiological Scorch”. 

When there is extensive chlorosis (yellowing) between the veins of the leaf, or necrosis (dead tissue) between the veins, which may occur on the top of the plant or throughout the plant, plant pathologists refer to this symptom as physiological scorch. 

This burning, or scorching of plant leaves, typically occurs when the roots and vascular system aren’t effectively doing their job, such as when root and/or stem pathogens restrict the vascular system when soybean is in the reproductive phase, especially during pod filling. 

“We suspect in some cases no disease may be involved or specifically to blame for these symptoms. Wet or saturated soils through much of the state have resulted in root systems that are poorly developed. 

“What we view as a ‘burning up of the plant’ is really just the plant response to a water and nutrient shortage when demand is greatest. 

“Once plants enter the reproductive stage, they will add only a few new roots and will not replace those that have died, thus the plant is limited in what it can do,” Koenning says.

The third star on the usual pest threat list, insects, likewise took advantage of the record rainfall to create some ill-timed, if not unusual problems for growers in the Upper Southeast.

Though all crops seemed to be hit with their share of insect problems this year, perhaps cotton was hit hardest. The crop was late-planted and late-maturing and perhaps more than any other of the region’s main commodities, affected by the prolonged rainfall and cool, damp weather.

Growers like Estill, S.C., cotton and peanut grower Doug Jarrell didn’t really need any additional problems with his cotton. Jarrell and his father have been growing crops in their little corner of southeast South Carolina all their lives.