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Hot, dry weather recalled in Alabama

Alabama's 2000 crop year, like those in surrounding states, will be remembered for the prolonged hot and dry weather over much of the farming regions. The season began with short topsoil moisture supplies in north Alabama and very short supplies in southern counties.

The 1999 crop year also was dry, which further hampered the 2000 planting season. Spring planting of corn and cotton lagged behind normal this past year due to the lack of moisture, although several counties received scattered showers.

During April of 2000, central and south Alabama crops were desperate for water, according to the state's agricultural statistics service. The lack of water all but halted the planting of non-irrigated tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupes, sweet corn and peas. Cotton growers also quit planting due to a lack of moisture.

“Peanut farmers planted 200,000 acres and harvested 192,000 acres. An abandonment of 8,000 acres was much above the normal abandonment of about 1,000 acres.”

During June, cotton producers in north and central Alabama received adequate rainfall to improve cotton growth. However, cotton plants in south Alabama were hampered by prolonged drought conditions and some early blooming occurred. Several fields in counties such as Henry, Geneva, Dale, Houston and Coffee didn't receive enough moisture for plant emergence.

Planted cotton acreage for 2000 was 590,000, with 530,000 acres being harvested. Peanuts also were stressed for water as the Wiregrass Region received roughly one-third to one-half of the normal annual precipitation. On June 9, peanut conditions were rated 86 percent poor to very poor.

Peanut farmers planted 200,000 acres and harvested 192,000 acres. An abandonment of 8,000 acres was much above the normal abandonment of about 1,000 acres.

Yields varied across the region with an average of 1.420 pounds per acre — one-third less than normal. Peanut production was recorded as the smallest since 1980.

Early planted soybeans yielded a fair to good crop, but late beans faced extremely dry conditions throughout the growing season. Some soybean producers harvested their crop for hay because of the drought. Overall, soybean yields were reported at 18 bushels per acre or two bushels more than the previous year.

As the drought worsened, Alabama cattle producers were scrambling to find enough hay to supplement dried-up pastures. Only 720,000 acres of hay were cut, with an average yield of 1.8 tons per acre, well below the two-plus ton average in normal years.

Pecan condition was fair to good with production of 15 million pounds, up 15 percent from last year. Wheat seedings for the crop year 2001 are placed at 160,000 acres, up 20,000 acres from the previous year's crop.

A summary of Alabama's 2000 crop year is as follows:

  • Corn production was 10.7 million bushels or 48 percent below the 1999 crop. Yield, at 65 bushels per acre, was 38 bushels below the 1999 record yield. Production was harvested from 165,000 acres or 35,000 acres below 1999.

  • Cotton production, at 540,000 bales, is down 14 percent from 1999. This places the state's yield from 535,000 harvested acres at 489 pounds of lint per acre. This is 46 pounds below 1999 and 306 pounds below the record set in 1985.

  • Peanut production was 272.6 million pounds or 39 percent below 1999. Yield per acre averaged 1,420 pounds compared with 2,175 pounds the previous year and 1,540 pounds below the record yield of 1984. Final harvested acreage was 192,000 acres, down 14,000 acres from 1999. Producers abandoned a record 8,000 acres because of drought.

  • Soybean production totaled 2,88 million bushels compared with 3.20 million bushels a year earlier. Yield was set at 18 bushels, up two bushels from 1999 but 16 bushels below the record set in 1996. Harvested area of 160,000 acres was down 40,000 acres.


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