The Georgia Agricultural Experiment Station
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
The University of Georgia

Research Report Number 659
August 1999


Edited by J. LaDon Day and Anton E. Coy

The Season

   Two hurricanes that came into Georgia, Earl in early September and Georges in late September provided soil moisture necessary to get small grain planting off to a good start.  Planting continued on a normal pace throughout the season.  Wheat acreage planted was estimated at 250,000 acres, a reduction of 14% from the previous year.  There was no change from the previous year in the number of acres planted to other small grains crops.

   Rainfall amounts recorded monthly at the five test locations during the 1998-99 growing season are presented in the following table.  The lower of the state received record low rainfall amounts during the growing season.  Locations at Griffin, Midville, Plains, and Tifton received 54.8%, 54.2%, 58.3%, and 51.4% of normal rainfall, respectively, during the eight month reporting period.

1998-99 Rainfall1

Month Year  Calhoun2 Griffin Midville Plains Tifton

  -------------------------------------------- inches -------------------------------------------
October 1998  2.47  0.45  1.14  0.22  0.03
November 1998  3.87  1.94  0.60  0.95  1.27
December 1998  6.33  1.95  1.95  1.28  1.60
January 1999  5.67  4.48  3.11  5.81  4.46
February 1999  3.01  2.19  2.49  2.62  1.73
March 1999  3.24  3.11  1.57  2.42  1.13
April 1999  2.14  1.53  2.75  2.65  2.07
May 1999  4.70  2.56  1.62  2.45  2.14
Total (8 months) 31.43 18.21 15.23 18.40 14.43
Normal (8 months) 37.91 33.43 28.12 31.55 28.09

1.  Data collected by Dr. G. Hoogenboom, Georgia Station, Griffin, GA.
2.  Floyd County location.

   The 1998-99 small grain growing season in Georgia was characterized by a mild winter followed by a warm and very dry spring. Lack of vernalization was a problem especially for late maturing varieties.  A mild winter along with a dry spring hastened maturity and stimulated a buildup of several diseases and insects.  Leaf rust and powdery mildew (early) required spray treatments.  Aphids and Hessian fly continue to plague small grain producers.  As the level of resistance to Hessian fly diminishes farmers search for new resistant wheat varieties.  Damage from cereal leaf beetle increased again as the pest marches across the state.

   Dry conditions during April and May hastened maturity and allowed small grain harvest to begin early and progress rapidly during May and June.  Only 225,000 acres of wheat were harvested for grain.  This was 90% of wheat harvested last year and an estimated 44 bushels per acre yield produced the lowest production in over 20 years.  Acres harvested and production of the other small grain crops was the same as 1998.