Tropical Storm Fay was the big story in the lower Southeast this past week as most of the area received copious amounts of rainfall, and in some cases, damaging winds.
In Georgia, the storm provided cooler temperatures and helped replenish soil moisture. However, there were reports of damage to corn, cotton and peanuts in southern sections of the state. There was also concern about soybean rust and diseases in peanuts after the storm.
Although Florida was inundated with heavy rains from the storm, the state’s citrus producing areas escaped damage from high winds.
Alabama growers received varying totals of rainfall during the week, and there were reports of damaging winds in some areas.
For an overall look at the cropping picture in the lower Southeast here’s how the state USDA/NASS field offices reported the situation for the week ending Aug. 24.
Tropical storm Fay brought damaging winds and copious amounts of rainfall to numerous areas over the weekend, and was threatening to return during the upcoming week.
Charles Burmester, agronomist at the Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center, mentioned that most of northern Alabama received approximately one inch of rain, but the total accumulations decreased as you moved closer to the Tennessee border.
Ronnie Davis, county executive director in the Henry County FSA office, stated that over eight inches of rainfall was received with very little runoff, allowing the topsoil and subsoil to soak up some valuable moisture.
William Birdsong, Extension agronomist at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center, indicated that between two and eight inches of rain had fallen in the area over the weekend, with most of the water absorbed by dry soils.
Average temperatures during the past week fluctuated drastically because of Fay, and varied from four degrees below normal in the southern part of the state to four degrees above normal in north Alabama. Daytime highs ranged from 88 degrees in Opelika and Union Springs to 96 degrees in Muscle Shoals, Belle Mina, and Hamilton. Overnight lows varied from 57 degrees in Belle Mina and Hamilton to 71 degrees in Mobile.
With the exception of Bridgeport, all weather stations reported receiving rainfall during the past week. Totals differed drastically depending on location, and ranged from 0.11 inches in Huntsville to 6.75 inches in Union Springs through Sunday morning. Tropical storm Fay brought isolated rainfall totals close to eight inches to some areas. Troy received 5.78 inches, and Dothan totaled 5.24 inches.
Crop conditions remained varied, although peanuts and soybeans showed slight improvement thanks to some rainfall during the previous week. William Birdsong noted that some producers in the Wiregrass region had crops that benefited from consistent rainfall and looked outstanding, while others were three days shy of going five weeks without a drop of moisture.
Olin F. Farrior, county Extension coordinator for Escambia County, reported that corn for grain was being harvested at a rapid pace. Yields were generally good, but some producers had their yields reduced due to stinkbug damage in fields that bordered wheat fields.
Birdsong added that some corn stands in the Wiregrass area were blown down because of winds from Fay, but the majority of the crop was unharmed.
Nearly all of this year’s cotton crop had finished setting bolls. Some cotton stands in the south incurred some wind damage and were blown down, but long-term damage was expected to be minimal.
The majority of the state’s peanut crop was in good to excellent condition. Most stands were expected to benefit from the recent rainfall, but early-planted fields were too far along to experience a helpful boost. Jimmy Todd, county Extension coordinator for Mobile County, mentioned that some producers in the county were planning to start digging peanuts around Sept. 15.
Many pastures across the state were beginning to show slight improvements, especially in the southern areas. Henry Dorough, regional Extension agent located in Talladega County, indicated that adequate surface moisture has kept forages growing well in most areas, but that a lack of subsoil moisture left many ponds and lakes that livestock use for watering dry.
Jimmy Smitherman, county Extension coordinator for Montgomery County, noted that heavy rainfall from Fay left many pastures in the county muddy, and some low areas flooded. Fallen trees and winds damaged pasture fences for some producers.
Tropical Storm Fay caused rain totals to be extreme for most locations. Rainfall was reported in excess of 5 inches for the majority of the state. Precipitation in St. Lucie, Volusia, Jefferson, and Lake counties was recorded at 12.3, 12.5, 15.0, and 15.3 inches respectively. Several county Extension agents reported quantities of rain over 15 inches.
A few areas of the state were dry prior to Fay and therefore did not experience flooding.
High temperatures ranged from the upper 80s to low 90s. Night time lows were in the upper 60s and low 70s. Major cities averaged temperatures that were normal to 4 degrees below normal.
Peanut condition was rated 12 percent fair, 60 percent good, and 28 percent excellent. There is concern that heavy rains may cause disease in peanuts, but most peanut and cotton growers expected good yields.
Most hay fields had substantial standing water. Pecan limb breakage from winds was mild in Duval County. Some corn in Hamilton County was ready to be harvested. However, until the moisture content is lower, harvest is delayed. Sod farmers in Brevard County experienced a substantial loss due to submersion of crops.
Daily rains and flooding halted field work for many growers last week. Soil moisture levels were adequate to surplus.
Complete assessments of wind and water damage for field crops have not been made at this early stage.
Tropical Storm Fay caused some delays as vegetable growers were trying to get planting under way. Lafayette County reported that cucumbers and beans were in the ground last week and may have suffered from surplus rains. Collier and Hendry counties reported that some of the plastic laid for vegetables was washed or blown away by the storms. Growers in Dade County did not report having vegetables planted yet and most avocadoes were already harvested. Okra and avocadoes continued to move through the market last week.
Heavy rain from Tropical Storm Fay left some pastures submerged or with standing water. In the Panhandle and northern areas, pasture was very poor to excellent. Because of the standing water in pastures, farmers are concerned with the possibilty of foot rot.
In the central areas, pasture condition ranged from poor to excellent. Lakes, ponds, streams, and road ditches were filled with water. Loopers damage in pastures was being controlled. The cattle condition was mostly good.
In the southwest, pasture condition was very poor to excellent with most fair to good. Low lying areas had standing water at week’s end. The cattle condition was poor to excellent. Statewide, cattle condition was mostly good.
Tropical Storm Fay made landfall on Tuesday morning near Ft. Myers, just south and west of several major citrus growing counties. After hitting the state, the storm moved slowly across the citrus region, drenching the Florida citrus industry, but sparing it of any significant wind damage. Industry experts reported that winds were not strong enough to cause major damage to the crop. However, standing water could present a significant problem if left in the groves too long.
Growers in the Indian River area that received up to 13 inches of rainfall were busy all week pumping out as much excess water as possible from the groves.
Other citrus areas that had heavy rains were Immokalee at 11 inches, Sebring at over 7 inches, and Apopka at over 5 inches. Some caretakers in the central citrus growing region welcomed the rainfall where seasonal amounts were below normal.
Due to the inclement weather, normal grove activities were suspended during the week.
Overall, the citrus crop is in good condition and growers were ready for a good season. Oranges were just under baseball size and grapefruit about softball size. Some color break was observed on interior grapefruit in younger groves.
Rain from Tropical Storm Fay brought needed moisture to farmers in some areas in the state but was too much for others, according to the USDA, NASS, Georgia Field Office.
Daily average high temperatures were in the high 80s. Average lows were in the 60s most of the week. Soil moisture conditions were rated at 17 percent very short, 24 percent short, 40 percent adequate, and 19 percent surplus.
The rains provided cooler temperatures and helped to replenish soil moisture.
Tropical Storm Fay damaged corn, cotton and pecans in southern Georgia. There has been concern about rust in soybeans and disease in peanuts after the storm. Dry conditions have still been reported in some areas of the state.
Other activities included feeding livestock. County Extension Agents reported an average of 5.2 days suitable for fieldwork.
District 1 — Northwest
“It appears we are going to miss out on the rains again. We were hoping that Tropical Storm Fay was coming so we would receive some much needed rains. Maybe next go round!”
District 2 — North Central
“Drought continues to cause decline in corn, pasture and hay condition — commercial grape harvest beginning.”
District 3 — Northeast
“We are in desperate need of significant rainfall.”
“Doesn't look like Tropical Storm Fay is going to be any help.”
District 4 — West Central
“Much needed rain was received over the weekend from the tropical system.”
“Tropical Storm Fay brought from 3-6 inches of rain, countywide.”
“Desperately need rain.”
“Tropical Storm Fay brought only minimal moisture to this area, but we're thankful and expect more along with rest of state. Hay and pastures have made some gains lately, but are still way off. Thoughts are on small grain for winter grazing plantings and clover additions into pastures.”
District 5 — Central
“We are anticipating rainfall from Tropical Storm Fay. We did receive 2.08 inches of rainfall on Aug 13 which was our highest recording of rainfall for the month.”
“Lots of cloud cover, but very little precipitation so far due to Tropical Storm Fay.”
“Welcome rains! Pastures and hayfields greening up! Corn harvesting halted due to rain.”
“Rains last week and cooler conditions this week have helped replenish soil moisture. Pasture conditions are better this week as a result. Livestock are healthier due to milder weather. Many farmers are weaning calves during this time.”
District 6 — East Central
“Got very little from Tropical Storm Fay. Need one more good soaker to put us "over the hump" with peanuts, soybeans and cotton. Reported corn yields are ranging down as low as 140 irrigated. I still believe the heat hurt us pretty badly, but it remains to be seen. Hay production is non-existent.”
“Tropical Storm Fay brought some rain. Cooler temperatures.”
District 7 — Southwest
“Tropical Storm Fay expected to bring heavy rainfall to area during the weekend.”
“Tropical Storm Fay did significant damage to remaining corn, cotton and pecans.”
“Significant amounts of rain are expected over the weekend from Tropical Storm Fay.”
“Heavy rainfall — up to 25 inches in some parts of the county.”
“Some tobacco growers are 95 percent harvested. However my largest grower is only 65 percent harvested. We also have a lot of corn not harvested that we are concerned this storm may damage. We need some rain but not in excess or high winds.”
District 8 — South Central
“Getting lots of rainfall from Tropical Storm Fay. All farming operations in the field have ceased. Still feeding livestock and conducting broiler duties. Working in shop to get harvest equipment ready and general maintenance of equipment. Concerned about soybean rust and soil diseases in peanuts after the storm. Corn is vulnerable to wind and grain rot. But on the bright side, the rainfall is much needed to replenish reserves in ponds, streams and creeks and rivers and aquifer and subsoil moisture, etc. Hate to see all of the erosion and any crop destruction. Tobacco may be drowning also. We will just have to wait and see.”
“Three to 4 inches of rain from Tropical Storm Fay.”
District 9 — Southeast
“Five and a half to 7 inches of rain reported for most of the Southern portions of the county.”