SECC Spring Crop Progress and Outlook
June 5th, 2009
Extended periods of rain, cloudy skies and unseasonably cool temperatures caused some major concerns among some farmers in the Southeast but were very welcome to others. Recent rains have delayed hay harvesting and hay quality suffered in many areas in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina. Wet field conditions have also caused planting to fall behind. Rainfall amounts of up to 20 inches during the last two weeks also caused severe damage to potato fields in three northeast Florida counties where growers suffered millions of dollars in loss from flooding caused by four days of nonstop rain.
Florida is in the middle of its potato harvest season and many fields in Flagler, Putnam and St. Johns counties are under several inches of water
Contrary to potato growers that suffered severe losses due to excess rainfall, farmers across most of the central Florida peninsula are relieved with the early onset of the rainy season that brought much needed moisture to areas experiencing severe drought just 15 days ago.
Rainfall totals in Florida during the second half of May, most of the peninsula received 5 to 15 inches with maximum amounts of 20 inches reported in Flag and Volusia counties.
Total rainfall for Georgia during the second half of May varied from 1-2 inches across the northern part of the state to 6-8 inches in the southeast.
Southern Alabama received 2 to 6 inches of rainfall over the past two weeks.
More than 5 inches of rainfall were recorded in several North Carolina counties including Wilkes, Alexander, Catawba and McDowell.
Peanuts: The major concern for peanut growers is which cultivars can be planted in early to mid-June. Dr. John Beasley, Peanut Agronomist in Georgia, noted that AT 215 is only early maturing cultivar that is available. The next maturity group is the mid maturing cultivars, which includes Georgia Green, Georgia-03L, Georgia-06G, Georgia Greener, AT 3085RO, AP-4, and Tifguard, and these can be planted up until the June 10-15 time frame. These cultivars mature in about 140 days after planting. Planting on June 15 means that peanut would approach optimal maturity around early November. Delayed planting can push maturity dates and expose peanut to unfavorable low temperatures later in the fall season. You can use the Climate Risk tool on AgroClimate.org and check for the average low temperatures in October and November in your county.
Cooler and wetter soils can make seedling disease due to Rhizoctonia solani more severe. The use of good seed treatments should help protect the peanut crop against seedling diseases in all but the wettest, most poorly rotated fields. Although the wet weather is conducive for spread and development of peanut leaf spot diseases, there is no need to start spraying too early. Sticking to a standard leaf spot program with traditional timing of sprays should be adequate. The most important aspect of disease management is to stay ahead of the disease; do not get behind in your fungicide applications. Additional information can be found at: http://www.caes.uga.edu/commodities/fieldcrops/peanuts/publications/index.html
Corn: The most important disease for corn growers in Georgia is Southern Corn Rust (SCR). Southern corn rust does not over-winter in Georgia and must be reintroduced each season. Extended periods of leaf wetness favor the SCR development. However, if the spores are not here yet, then we will not have southern rust. In some fields, corn is approaching tasseling growth stages. Growers want to know if the wet weather, coupled with the early reproductive growth stages mandates application of a fungicide. For specific fungicide recommendations, growers are advised to check with their state extension plant pathologists and county agents.
According to Ronnie Heiniger, Agronomy Extension in North Carolina, summer weather has arrived early in North Carolina just as it did in 2008. Recent temperatures in the low 90's have caused some leaf rolling in corn especially in the coastal plain. Across the state there has been adequate rainfall west of I-95 with corn experiencing almost ideal conditions. However, east of I-95 showers have been scattered with most areas experiencing limited amounts of rainfall over the past two weeks. While most of the corn is still in early vegetative growth (V10 or younger) the lack of moisture is beginning to affect plant development on the sandier soils. There is still opportunity for a good crop but eastern NC needs to see some substantial rainfall in the next two weeks for that to happen.
Cotton: Cool temperatures likely slowed development of cotton seedlings that have emerged. Cooler and wetter soils are extremely favorable conditions for seedling diseases such as Rhizoctonia soreshin and Pythium root rot. Growers planting into these conditions may want to consider use of additional fungicides for protection of the seeds and seedlings from disease. Growers may see an immediate outbreak of disease, when the sun does come out and temperatures start to rise again. This will be the result of damage that has already occurred, but did not manifest itself until heat and drier soils stressed the affected plants. Current conditions are also favorable for the early-season initiation of Ascochyta blight on young cotton. Typically this disease will diminish in importance with warmer and drier weather. For specific information on cotton production, please check the online Georgia cotton production guide.
Soybeans: Current conditions are favorable for seedling diseases on soybeans and some growers may opt to use fungicide seed treatments. If a grower does choose to use a seed treatment, he should ensure that it is effective against Rhizoctonia solani. Although current conditions are favorable for many foliar diseases, the greatest concern is for Asian soybean rust.
Small Grains: Small grain harvest has been held up in most areas due to wet soil conditions and will delay planting of the second crop. According to Dr. David Wright, Agronomy extension specialist in Florida, some fields of wheat have been discarded due to grain sprouting in the head prior to harvest. Most fields have not been that bad but could present a problem if rains continue. As we get further into June with small grain harvest, soybeans become the only crop able to make a profitable yield. Cotton should not be planted after mid June for high yield expectations.
Forage: Good moisture has enabled improved pasture production this year. Pasture conditions in Florida have improved considerable across most of the peninsula, especially in the central ridge area where total rainfall during the last 15 days varied from 5 to 15 inches. In North Carolina rains and cool temperatures resulted in abundant cool season pastures. Livestock access to many Piedmont pastures had to be restricted to prevent destruction of stands. In some areas flooding of low-lying pastures was a problem. Consequently some producers were feeding stored forage. Isolated areas of the state remained very dry. However, in some locations rainy conditions in the past 3-4 weeks have made it difficult for hay producers to string several good drying days. As a result, annual ryegrass hay crops in North Georgia and cool season hay crops in much of North Carolina have gotten rank and overly mature. Consequently, the growth of the underlying bermudagrass sod has become stunted or in the case where the land is double cropped with a summer annual, plantings have been substantially delayed. Producers in South Georgia are also having difficulties in taking their first cutting of bermudagrass. The weather favored bermudagrass hay crops in some areas of eastern North Carolina. To make matters worse, cloudy and overcast days have reduced forage growth, especially in our warm season forage grasses (bermudagrass, bahiagrass, summer annuals, etc.). This has led to some effects on yield, but this created an excellent environment for disease growth in some locations. Producers should be on the lookout for fungal disease problems when they finally are able to get back into their fields and as we transition into the summer time. Additional information on leafspot management can be found at http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/pubs/pdf/C887.pdf.
Finally, the other major issue that we have been contending with is weed pressure. After 3 successive drought years and all the stress that goes along with that, weeds have garnered a foothold in many of our hay and pasture fields. Producers have been unable to spray their fields due to wet and windy conditions. As a result, the weeds have gotten a jump on our desirable species and many have gotten beyond the stage in which herbicides are most effective. Producers are advised to flail mow pastures overgrown with cool season grasses to allow warm season pasture species to flourish. For more information about conditions in Florida visit the Forages for Florida web site: http://agronomy.ifas.ufl.edu/ForagesofFlorida/index.php.
With contributions from:
Florida Extension: Yoana Newman, David Wright, Mongi Zekri, Ryan Atwood
Georgia Extension: John Beasley, Bob Kemerait, Dennis Hancock
North Carolina Extension: Ronnie Heiniger; Sue Ellen Johnson