The Season

Monthly and seasonal rainfall amounts for the 1997 growing season at each of the six test locations are presented in the table below. Seasonal rainfall was well below normal at Tifton but near normal at other test locations.

1997 Rainfall1 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Month Athens2 Calhoun3 Griffin Midville Plains Tifton ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ---------------------- inches ------------------------ March 1.86 3.54 0.74 1.78 0.56 2.14 April 4.60 4.49 6.63 4.26 5.59 4.14 May 3.21 5.48 4.50 2.13 4.35 2.24 June 5.02 7.39 4.28 4.96 3.79 1.96 July 7.99 3.71 4.96 4.37 6.26 1.85 August 1.64 1.75 0.98 1.71 1.15 1.04 September 6.32 6.09 8.33 6.02 3.34 5.51 October 6.46 7.91 4.38 5.17 5.85 0.47 Total 37.10 40.36 34.80 30.40 30.89 19.35 Normal (8 mo) 32.26 35.00 33.26 31.17 31.99 32.72 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1. Data provided in part by Dr. G. Hoogenboom, Georgia Station, Griffin, GA. 2. Plant Sciences Farm. 3. Floyd County location.

Georgia farmers increased plantings of cotton and soybean in 1997 while acreage of other row crops declined slightly from the previous year. Cool temperatures during May and early June slowed planting and early crop development of peanut, cotton and soybean. Cool soils contributed to reduced stands and increased incidence of seedling diseases especially in later cotton plantings. Warmer weather during late June and July improved crop conditions and development.

Tobacco production was plagued throughout the season by diseases. Frequent and often severe outbreaks of tomato spotted wilt virus were common in both tobacco and peanut plantings. The entire state suffered from an extended drought that began in August and continued until late September. The soybean crop was most severely damaged by this two month drought. Heavy rains in late September ended the drought but were largely too late to benefit crops. Continued frequent and heavy rains during October and November delayed harvest and reduced yields and quality of cotton and soybean crops.

Grain sorghum yields increased by 15% over 1996, but yields of all other row crops declined. Average peanut yields declined by 3%, while cotton yields were down 11%, tobacco down 19%, and soybean down 30% from their 1996 levels.