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Crop conditions show improvement, harvest pushes forward

The amount of topsoil moisture available in some places declined during the past week despite the beneficial rainfall brought by afternoon thunderstorms that popped up in several locations across the state.

Over 41 percent of the state continued to remain drought free, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released for Sept. 9. Temperatures across the state varied from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties during the past week, and were well above normal at all reporting weather stations.

Daytime highs ranged from 89 degrees in Sand Mountain, Bridgeport, and Union Springs to 95 degrees in Bay Minette, Geneva, and Dothan. Overnight lows varied between 57 degrees in Belle Mina and 72 degrees in Bay Minette, Mobile, and Dothan.

The majority of weather stations reported receiving some precipitation during the past week. Total accumulations ranged from 0.01 inches Birmingham to 2.92 inches in Thorsby. Other locations receiving notable rainfall were Hamilton with 1.36 inches, Talladega with 1.98 inches, Montgomery with 1.16 inches, Bay Minette with 1.92 inches, and Brewton with 1.60 inches.

Corn/Cotton/Peanuts/Soybeans

Leonard Kuykendall, Regional Extension Agent located in Autauga County, reported that corn for grain yields across the region varied from poor to very good. James D. Jones, Jr., County Extension Coordinator for Henry County, indicated that corn for grain yields in the county were approximately 30 bushels per acre in some non-irrigated fields. The corn conditions as of Aug. 31 was rated 67 percent in fair to excellent condition with 98 percent of the crop reaching the dent stage. Corn harvest slowed in some areas of the state due to rain from Fay and Gustav. Corn acres harvested reached 30 percent, one percent less than the five-year average. The corn yield is forecast at 92 bushels per acre with production expected to total 21,160,000 bushels.

Richard Petcher, Regional Extension Agent located in Washington County, mentioned that some cotton in the area was harvested during the past week. Producers in most areas were busy applying defoliants with hopes of harvesting their crops within the next couple of weeks. Jim Todd, County Executive Director in the Mobile County FSA office, reported that some producers expected a slight loss during harvest because of tangled cotton plants. Soils in the peanut belt had dried out considerably following the recent wet weather. The cotton crop yield potential was not affected by the storm. Cotton condition was rated 86 percent in fair to excellent condition, with 99 percent cotton settling boils and 44 percent boils opening. The cotton lint yield is forecast at 714 pounds per acre with cotton production expected to reach 424,000 bales.

Kris Balkcom, Peanut Specialist at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center, stated that growers in the area hoped for a rain shower or two to push the late-planted peanuts to maturity, and soften the soil so that digging would be easier. Harvest was underway, but most producers were approximately ten days away from being in full swing. Mr. Kuykendall added that producers sprayed some peanut fields in the Autauga County area with fungicides. Peanut conditions were 98 percent fair to excellent. Majority of the peanuts have reached the pegging stage as of late August. The peanut yield is estimated at 3,000 pounds per acre and production forecast at 573,000,000 pounds.

The state’s soybean condition improved somewhat following the recent rainfall received. Alex Brand, County Executive Director in the Wilcox County FSA office, noted that soybean producers made insecticide applications to control worms.

Pasture/Hay/Livestock

Overall, pastures across Alabama showed some improvement during the past week. However, Mr. Jones stated that pastures and hay fields in Henry County needed some rain. T.H. Gregg, Regional Extension Agent located in Etowah County, mentioned that some producers in the area were busy harvesting a third cutting of hay. Livestock in Alabama continued to show signs of improvement, as pasture grasses continued to provide adequate forage.