Dry week for most, wheat harvest nearly complete

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 29, 2008

Producers saw a dry week across most of the state during the past week as rain showers were scattered.

Nearly 17 percent of the state was drought-free, compared to 12.5 percent a week ago and none last year, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released from June 17.

Average temperatures varied from five degrees below to three degrees above normal during the past week. Daytime highs ranged from 89 degrees in Cullman, Sand Mountain, Guntersville, and Union Springs to 96 degrees in Dothan. Overnight lows fell between 51 degrees in Bridgeport and 64 degrees in Bay Minette, Headland, and Dothan.

Several weather stations remained dry during the past week, and locations that saw rainfall had accumulations that ranged between only 0.01 inches in Talladega and 0.95 inches in Headland. Producers were busy planting double-cropped soybeans, side-dressing cotton with nitrogen, and making herbicide applications to peanuts and soybeans.

Small Grains

Producers were virtually finished harvesting wheat and other small grain crops. Leonard Kuykendall, Regional Extension Agent located in Autauga County, stated that farmers have seen the best wheat yields in many years, with averages of approximately 70 bushels per acre. Olin F. Farrior, County Extension Coordinator for Escambia County, noted that wheat harvest was nearly complete, with yields averaging between 50 and 60 bushels per acre. Some areas suffered significant disease and insect damage from rust and the Hessian fly. Alex Brand, County Executive Director in the Wilcox County FSA office, added that wheat yields in the area were very good.

Corn/Cotton/Peanuts and Soybeans

Several areas of the state were still extremely dry, leaving some crop stands showing signs of drought stress. Nine percent of Alabama’s corn crop had reached the dough stage, with one percent reported in the dented stage.

The majority of this year’s cotton crop remained in good or excellent condition during the past week. Phenological progress was slow compared to last year and the five-year average, as only 24 percent of the crop had started squaring compared to 28 percent in 2007 and 36 percent over the past five years. Scattered showers during the previous week were a blessing to many peanut producers, as the majority of the crop was reported in fair condition during the past week.

Kris Balkcom, Peanut Specialist at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center, reported that a number of fields across the peanut belt were infested with corn earworms and tobacco budworms. These insects were seen feeding on the foliage of the smallest peanut stands. Growers were encouraged to apply Karate or Mustang Max insecticides to control the bugs.

The soybeans that had already emerged and moved into the blooming stage were in mostly good or excellent condition. Kuykendall indicated that double-crop soybeans were planted behind wheat in areas around Autauga County where moisture and deer weren’t a problem. Farrior mentioned that Escambia County producers had planted soybeans behind their wheat crop, and the soybean stands were generally good.


Pasture conditions varied greatly depending on location, and how much rainfall was received during the past couple of weeks. Brenda Glover, Regional Extension Agent located in Hale County, noted that many areas around Hale County were in drought situations. Kenneth Kelly, Regional Extension Agent located in Mobile County, stated that pasture conditions in the area improved dramatically after the previous week’s rain. Brand reported that pastures and hayfields around Wilcox County needed moisture. Livestock conditions improved as animals began to benefit from improved pastures, with most reported in good or excellent condition.