A tropical storm developing off the Gulf Coast could bring much-needed relief to Alabama farmers battling a dry growing season. At press time, the storm was expected to make landfall in Louisiana Saturday, July 13.
But the rain could be too late for some crops, said the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Carla Hornady.
“Weeks of high temperatures and hit-or-miss rain showers have damaged corn, cotton and soybeans across the state,” said Hornady, the Federation’s Cotton, Soybean and Wheat & Feed Grain divisions director. “Moisture is still appreciated, especially for cotton and soybeans, which aren’t as far along in the growing season. If those crops don’t receive rain during critical growth periods, yields will be reduced.”
Alabama’s corn crop could suffer the worst damage, Hornady said. Ninety-four percent of Alabama corn is silking, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) July 8 Crop Progress and Condition Report.
The report also stated 74% of cotton is squaring, 69% of peanut plants are pegging and 54% of soybeans are blooming.
Dry conditions could also hamper hay quality and yields. Sixty-five percent of hay is on its second cutting, USDA says.
According to the July 11 U.S. Drought Monitor, just over 45% of Alabama was abnormally dry, while moderate drought conditions covered about 10% of the state, concentrated around the Wiregrass and west-central Alabama. Deeper in the Wiregrass, about 3% of the area is dealing with severe drought.
Follow drought conditions at droughtmonitor.unl.edu.