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May 18, 2004   Email to Friend 

WELCOMED RAINS IMPROVING STATE CROP OUTLOOK
Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
May 18, 2004

Welcomed rain was received in much of the state this week improving crop and pasture conditions.

Most of the corn crop has emerged and farmers are applying liquid nitrogen to the earliest planted fields or side-dressing with nitrogen fertilizer, according to information released this week by the Alabama Agriclture Statistics Service.

Due to recent rains, cotton is now growing well but so are the weeds. Growers are trying to decide which herbicides, if any, they will use in conjunction with their Roundup Ready cotton. A few acres may need to be replanted on the soils that are prone to crust. Reports indicate that thrips pressure is very high in some areas. Also, growers are cautioned to be aware of the potential for damage from grasshoppers and cutworms. Dale Monks, Extension Agronomy Specialist, said, "Hopefully, current weather patterns will give producers a break between rains so they can keep the crop clean with rapid growth and development."

Soybean planting continues with nearly a third of the crop in the ground. Soybeans have emerged in a few fields.

A little more than one-third of the peanut crop has been planted but lags is behind the five year average where over half of the crop has been seeded by this date.

Hay fields and pastures are greening up and looking good, according to the report. Over a third of the hay fields have been cut the first time. Prospects for additional cuttings are favorable.

Vegetable planting continues. Damp weather has hampered strawberry harvest in some areas. Beef cattle and broilers are in fair to good condition.

Gary Gray, Chilton County Extension Agent predicts Alabama will have a bumper peach crop this year. The lack of rain earlier in the year during the bloom period was beneficial to the peach corp. Drier weather makes the peaches sweeter and reduces the insect pressure.

Growers are doing a good job of keeping their orchards clean by applying herbicides and mowing, Gray said. That's helpful in keeping insect problems to a minimum.

Some orchards sustained minor freeze and hail damage this year but nothing compared to last year when about half of the state's peach crop was wiped out by a late March freeze. Growers are currently in the process of thinning their peaches.

Some peach growers began harvesting early varieties about May 7. Harvest will continue through Labor Day. The peak of the harvest season is in July.


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