Drought alleviated by Fay, Gustav

Published 10:53 pm Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tropical storm Fay and hurricane Gustav brought torrential rains to parts of Alabama during the past couple of weeks.

Just over 41 percent of the state was categorized as completely drought free, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released for Aug. 26.

Dawn Hoagland, County Executive Director in the Blount County FSA office, noted that between six and twelve inches of rainfall had fallen in the past week, with most of the water absorbed into dry soils. Leonard Kuykendall, Regional Extension Agent located in Autauga County, added that eight to nine inches of precipitation fell around the area. Average temperatures during the past week varied from four degrees below to three degrees above normal.

Daytime highs ranged from 88 degrees at Sand Mountain to 94 degrees in Montgomery. Overnight lows varied from 62 degrees in Belle Mina to 72 degrees in Bay Minette.

All weather stations reported receiving rainfall during the past week. Total accumulations ranged from 1.43 inches in Hamilton to a soaking 6.83 inches at Sand Mountain. Other locations receiving substantial rainfall totals were Alabaster with 6.25 inches, Mobile with 6.23 inches, and Gadsden with 5.77 inches.


Corn harvest slowed in some areas following the recent tropical weather that left fields in many places too wet to run any equipment across. Charles Burmester, Agronomist at the Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center, reported that yields had varied greatly depending on location, but there were reports of some dry land corn averaging 80 to 150 bushels per acre. William Birdsong, Agronomist at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center, indicated that most producers escaped tropical storm Fay with little to no damage to their crops. However, farmers in a few isolated areas lost 80 to 85 percent of their corn due to strong winds blowing it to the ground. Jim Todd, County Extension Coordinator for Mobile County, stated that hurricane Gustav brought heavy rains and cloud cover, both of which continued to affect the county’s cotton crop. A few stands were expected to abort some of the bolls current on the plants, while other stands were still in the development stage and could shut down completely. A portion of the cotton crop in the Wiregrass area suffered some wind damage from Fay, leaving the stalks blown over and twisted. Birdsong did not expect this damage to affect the yield potential, but ground applications and harvesting could prove to be troublesome. Disease pressure from stinkbugs continued to be a problem in some cotton fields in the Wiregrass region. Producers were planning insecticide sprays as soon as they could get a plane or tractor into their fields. Alabama’s soybean crop showed improvement thanks to the recent rainfall received across the state during the past couple of weeks. Burmester stated that late-planted soybeans benefited immensely from the three to four inches of rain received. Disease and insect pressure was apparent in some fields across the state. Birdsong mentioned that downy mildew was present in some fields before the storms, and most producers made fungicide applications as a treatment. Podworms and stinkbugs were also present.


Pasture conditions showed improvement during the past week, as more soil moisture was available to promote grass growth. Henry Dorough, Regional Extension Agent located in Talladega County, mentioned that pastures and hayfields were drying out following the recent storms, and that some producers in the area were harvesting a third cutting of hay. Doyle Barnes, County Executive Director in the Covington County FSA office, added that pastures and hayfields in the county looked very good for this time of year. The state’s livestock remained in fair to excellent condition.

–from staff reports