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Cool temperatures, rainfall slow harvest in south Alabama

A cold front moved through Alabama toward the end of the week, bringing with it significant rainfall for some locations. Hydrological drought conditions remained virtually unchanged during the past week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released for Oct. 21.

Temperatures cooled off dramatically, and ranged from one to as many as eight degrees below normal. Daytime highs varied between 70 degrees in Sand Mountain and 80 degrees in Geneva. Overnight lows ranged from chilly 30 degrees in Russellville to 47 degrees in Mobile.

Small Grains

Producers took advantage of beneficial rainfall, and spent the week preparing fields and sowing their 2009 winter wheat crop. Leonard Kuykendall, Regional Extension Agent located in Autauga County, reported that many producers in the area made seedbed preparations following the timely rainfall during the week, and were planning on planting during the upcoming week. James D. Jones, Jr., County Extension Coordinator for Henry County, mentioned that good rain showers were received to the benefit of small grain crops that were already planted.

Cotton/Peanuts/ Soybeans

Cotton harvest moved forward during the past week despite wet fields in many southern locales. Mr. Birdsong noted that the recent rainfall stopped harvest progress completely in the majority of fields around the Wiregrass area, but the abundant sunshine over the weekend had producers poised to get back into their fields soon. The first freeze was forecast for the state during the upcoming week. Crop maturity was expected to slow and fiber development was expected to cease following the anticipated freezing temperatures. Peanut producers continued digging their fields, but harvest slowed on the heels of the week’s rainfall. Mr. Kuykendall added that harvest around the Autauga County area was in full swing until Thursday. Harvest progress was significantly ahead of last year, but lagged the five-year average. Forty percent of the state’s soybean crop was reported in good to excellent condition. The leaf-dropping stage of maturity was nearly complete on this year’s entire crop. Harvest leapt forward to be on par with last year and five percentage points ahead of the five-year average.

Pasture/Hay/ Livestock

Warm season perennial pasture grasses neared the end of their growing season. In the wake of the recent rainfall, producers continued seeding winter wheat, oats, and ryegrass for winter grazing. Kenneth Kelly, Regional Extension Agent located in Mobile County, indicated that most of the winter grazing seeding during the past couple of weeks had emerged and looked pretty good. Farmers in a few areas across the state were still harvesting their final cutting of hay from warm season grasses. As winter approached, hay supplies were adequate to surplus in most places. Some producers have hay for sale, compared to a year ago when many ranchers had to purchase hay from out of state. Overall, the state’s livestock were reported in mostly fair to excellent condition. Henry Dorough, Regional Extension Agent located in Talladega County, stated that animals in the area were in good shape going into the winter months, and the amount of stored hay available was not an issue at this time.