Conditions vary depending on moisture

Published 9:34 pm Saturday, July 12, 2008

Crops and pastureland benefited tremendously from the recent rain showers that fell in some locations during the past week.

Larry Forrester, County Executive Director in the Dale County FSA office, said the soil moisture condition improved during the past week due to more afternoon showers.

However, hydrological drought conditions worsened. Only 6.2 percent of the state was considered drought free, compared to 20.1 percent a week ago, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released for July 1.

All weather stations reported receiving precipitation during the past week.

Total accumulations ranged from 0.06 inches in Muscle Shoals to 3.18 inches in Geneva. Year-to-date precipitation totals were below normal at all but three weather stations.

Corn, cotton, peanuts and soybeans

The condition of Alabama’s corn crop varied drastically depending on the amount of rainfall received during this growing season.

This year’s corn crop has been slow to develop phenologically, and remained behind last year and the five-year average for corn dented, corn mature, and corn harvested.

Alex Brand, County Executive Director in the Wilcox County FSA office, indicated that another shower or two was needed to push the corn crop to maturity. James D. Jones, Jr., County Extension Coordinator for Henry County, mentioned that the corn crop needed rain, but the cotton and peanut crops were fair to good. Most of the state’s cotton crop was reported in good to excellent condition during the past week.

Two-thirds of the crop was squaring, with 14 percent already setting bolls. Producers were busy spraying herbicides to help “clean up” the many weeds that emerged following the latest rainfall.

Pasture, hay and livestock

Pasture conditions in areas of the state that had not received any rainfall declined during the past week. Henry Dorough, Regional Extension Agent located in Talladega County, reported that although pasture conditions across the area were in better condition than they were a year ago, many places that missed the widely scattered showers were showing signs of severe stress. Contrastingly, Doyle Barnes, County Executive Director in the Covington County FSA office, indicated that pastures and hayfields made an unbelievable change after receiving good amounts of rainfall over a three-day period last week. Some producers were harvesting a second cutting of hay.

Overall, the state’s livestock were reported in mostly good to excellent condition. Some producers continued to cull older cattle to reduce the amount of feedstuffs being consumed.