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

Research Report Number 685
December 2002


Edited by J. LaDon Day, Anton E. Coy, Paul A. Rose, and R. Dewey Lee

The Season

Row crop producers in Georgia had marginal soil moisture during the Spring but managed to get a summer crop planted and established before drought and high temperatures returned to the state for the fifth consecutive year. Growing conditions did not improve as low rainfall and high temperatures occurred across the state. Dryland producers struggled controlling pests.

The severe drought that began in April 1998 continued during 2002 and appeared unbreakable until mid-September when tropical storm Hanna came into Southwest Georgia. Hanna produced beneficial rainfall for most of the state, however the Southwest portion of the state around Donalsonville received 12 to 15" inches of torrential rainfall. The disaster continued two weeks later when tropical storm Isidore came out of the gulf into Georgia and the wet, cloudy, drizzly weather continued over the next two months due to the remnants of Hurricane Lilli and numerous rain producing fronts.

Rainfall for the six Georgia and the Marianna, Florida test sites is listed below. Total seasonal rainfall amounts were below normal for the fifth consecutive year, but most of the deficit was reduced with the very wet fall.

2002 Rainfall1

Month Athens2 Calhoun3 Griffin Midville Plains Tifton Marianna, FL4
------------------------------------------------------ inches -------------------------------------------------------
March 6.76 6.68 5.19 5.00 5.03 5.16 5.51
April 1.29 0.99 3.07 1.61 2.44 2.62 5.78
May 3.63 4.82 3.33 1.49 1.09 0.78 2.19
June 4.79 1.66 3.56 2.32 2.64 0.60 3.45
July 2.60 3.39 2.40 2.62 5.27 3.35 10.34
August 1.43 3.01 0.60 3.46 3.04 2.30 13.30
September 6.45 6.22 4.12 4.62 3.80 4.12 11.83
October 3.20 7.11 7.72 3.66 3.65 6.06 7.36
November 5.09 5.08 4.67 4.86 3.55 4.90 7.76
Total 35.24 38.96 34.66 29.64 30.51 29.89 67.52
Normal (9 mo) 35.92 41.07 39.33 37.35 37.99 37.62 -
1. Georgia data provided in part by Dr. G. Hoogenboom, Georgia Station, Griffin, GA.
2. Plant Sciences Farm.
3. Floyd County location.
4. University of Florida, North Florida Research & Education Center, Marianna, FL.

Georgia farmers continue to reduce planted acres of some row crops. Soybean acres continued a 6-year decline, down 7%, and were the lowest acreage planted since 1963. Grain sorghum acreage increased 10% over last year, while forage crop acres decreased 8% this summer.

Overall the 2002 growing season was extremely difficult for farmers due to drought and then extremely wet weather. The harvest season had a timely beginning but quickly fell behind due to wet weather. The delays caused many problems for producers and decreased crop quality. In our variety evaluation plots across the state the wet, continuously cloudy, and drizzly weather caused uneven maturity in crops, and wet soils delayed harvest. Quality scores on soybean seed this fall were very poor, therefore the data can not be used this year nor used in long term averages. Also, maturity data was skewed and will not be reported.

Production reports on forages this year indicate a 14% decline from last year. The prediction on soybean production at this time is bleak because up to half the planted acres could not be harvested due to wet fields. Where fields of soybeans can be harvested, the seed quality is very poor.

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