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State corn harvest moves forward, yields vary

As the 2008 crop season continued to move forward, summer rainstorms remained scattered leaving the ground in some areas parched and crops thirsty for soaking rainfall, while crops in serendipitous regions flourished.

Extreme hydrological drought conditions were established in several counties across Districts 10, 20, 30 and 40 while all of Baldwin and most of Mobile County remained drought free, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released for Aug. 5.

Shane Seay, County Executive Director in the Limestone County FSA office, said rainfall remained very scattered throughout the county, with some areas in good shape and others still struggling.

Average temperatures cooled off during the past week, varying from two degrees below to 4 degrees above normal. Daytime highs ranged from 93 degrees in Cullman and Bridgeport to 99 degrees in Hamilton, Tuscaloosa, and Troy. Overnight lows varied from 54 degrees in Hamilton and Brewton to 66 degrees in Headland.

Precipitation was scattered, and totals ranged from 0.01 inches in Montgomery to 0.90 inches in Opelika. Several weather stations across the state remained completely dry during the past week.

Corn, Cotton, Peanuts and Soybeans

Crop conditions continued to vary in relation to the amount of rainfall received. Just over 30 percent of this year’s corn crop was reported in good to excellent condition during the past week. However, Donald E. Mann, County Executive Director in the Jackson County FSA office, reported that fields were losing yield potential every day that rain did not fall. Leonard Kuykendall, Regional Extension Agent located in Autauga County, noted that producers were busy harvesting the early corn crop, and that yields were good. Phenological progress of Alabama’s cotton crop was ahead of last year and the five-year average. Kuykendall mentioned that the hot, dry weather was pushing the area’s cotton to maturity faster than normal, and most of the crop needed a thirst quenching drink of water. Alex Brand, County Executive Director in the Wilcox County FSA office, concurred by adding that without some rainfall soon, the cotton couldn’t continue normal growth. Over half of this year’s peanut crop was reported in good to excellent condition, with just over three-quarters of the stand pegged. The soybean crop struggled during the past week. Reporters saw a decline in soybean condition, with most areas in desperate need of rainfall.

Pasture, hay and livestock

Pasture conditions remained virtually unchanged during the past week. Danny S. Miller, Regional Extension Agent located in DeKalb County, mentioned that evening showers were isolated, enhancing the drought conditions already present in many pastures in the area. In comparison, Henry Dorough, Regional Extension Agent located in Talladega County, indicated that recent rains breathed life back into pastures and hayfields, allowing producers to resume harvesting a second cutting of hay in many areas of the region. Jimmy Smitherman, County Extension Coordinator for Montgomery County, reported that adverse weather conditions hampered forage growth. Alabama’s livestock condition showed a decline during the past week, as roughage became less available. Mann said that several livestock producers in the Jackson County area were forced to begin feeding hay.