End of crop season nears
Published 3:21 pm Saturday, November 22, 2008
Fieldwork across the Tennessee Valley and Appalachian Foothills slowed during the past week, as several areas received rainfall on a number of days.
Soil moisture conditions improved in Districts 10, 20, 30, 50, and 60 while District 40 showed a slight decrease in available soil moisture. All weather stations reported receiving rainfall during the past week. However, the total amount of moisture received differed drastically depending on location.
Total accumulations fluctuated between 0.02 of an inch in Brewton and 2.63 inches in Jasper. Cullman and Bridgeport also received over two inches of rainfall at 2.34 inches and 2.23 inches, respectively.
Average temperatures varied from three degrees below to as many as five degrees above normal during the past week. Daytime highs ranged from 66 degrees in Gadsden and Bridgeport to 83 degrees in Brewton and Dothan. Overnight dipped to a very chilly 25 degrees in Belle Mina and Hamilton. Dothan recorded the warmest overnight temperature at 38 degrees.
Winter wheat seeding surpassed the halfway mark during the past week, as producers in most places hurried to finish planting while there was a good supply of soil moisture.
Crop emergence reached nearly 30 percent. Wheat stands in areas that missed the beneficial rains from a week showed signs of stress.
As the 2008 crop season drew closer to its end, producers were busy harvesting the remaining acreage of cotton, peanuts, and soybeans.
Cotton harvested reached 91 percent during the past week, slightly ahead of last year and significantly ahead of the five-year average. Peanut producers were all but finished digging their fields, and lacked five percent from being completely through with harvest.
Reported yields have been outstanding from this year’s crop. Kris Balkcom, Peanut Specialist at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center, stated that contributing factors for the estimated record yield were timely rainfall, cooler temperatures, and an improved crop rotation.
Pasture conditions varied greatly depending on location. Recent frosts killed what little warm season grass remained.
Henry Dorough, Regional Extension Agent located in Talladega County, commented that a regional lack of rainfall during the previous two weeks prohibited growth in cool season pastures. Producers worried that a seemingly endless supply of locally produced hay would be completely exhausted if the small grains that had already been seeded did not receive some moisture soon.
The state’s hay and roughage supply dwindled some because producers in several areas began feeding hay. Jimmy Smitherman, County Extension Coordinator for Montgomery County, indicated that moderate temperatures have been beneficial to area producers. Depleted soil moisture slowed the progress of winter grazing, but hay remained available for purchase around Montgomery County.
Feed dealers reported an increase in the requests for the normal winter feedstuffs. Overall, the state’s livestock were reported in good condition going into winter.