The Georgia Agricultural Experiment Stations
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
The University of Georgia
Research Report Number 692
January 2004
Department of Crop and Soil Sciences
Griffin Campus
Table of Contents


J. LaDon Day, Anton E. Coy, Stevan S. LaHue, William D. Branch,
O. Lloyd May, Larry G. Thompson, and Paul A. Rose, Editors

The Season

Growing conditions improved dramatically during the 2003 crop season as more normal rainfall along with cooler temperatures occurred across most of the state. These favorable weather patterns were a much needed relief to Georgia farmers who battled drought conditions and extremely high temperatures during the past five crop years. The drought was actually broken during the fall of 2002 and the wet conditions continued during 2003. Planting of the 2003 spring crop was impeded at several areas in the state due to excessive rainfall and wet and waterlogged soils. Irrigation was almost non-existent during the 2003 growing season. As a result of the favorable weather, the status of crops was very good to excellent throughout much the growing season.

Rainfall amounts recorded monthly at the five test locations in Georgia during the 2003 growing season are presented in the following table. The above normal rainfall received at each site during the recorded period was excessive at some sites. For example, during May, June, and July at the Midville site over 27 inches of rainfall were received, an amount of 15 inches more than normal (225% increase) for those three months. The Athens site received slightly over 30 inches of rainfall during those same three months. When averaged across all five sites during the 2003 growing season, rainfall was 20% more than normal.

2003 Rainfall1
Month Athens2 Attapulgus3 Midville Plains Tifton
-------------------------------------- inches -------------------------------------
March 7.22 6.66 8.44 4.85 8.22
April 2.75 5.23 5.41 5.39 3.47
May 7.94 1.25 8.33 6.77 1.26
June 8.42 6.73 6.01 4.64 6.51
July 13.77 6.52 12.69 5.91 7.37
August 1.91 5.21 2.91 6.34 8.05
September 3.49 1.90 1.71 2.33 4.00
October 1.97 3.78 3.55 2.36 4.60
November 3.50 1.91 1.50 1.15 1.22
Total 50.97 39.19 50.55 39.74 44.70
Normal (9 mo) 35.92 38.74 37.35 37.99 37.62
1. Data provided in part by Dr. G. Hoogenboom, Georgia Station, Griffin, GA.
2. Plant Sciences Farm.
3. Attapulgus Research Center is nearest location to the Bainbridge site.

Georgia farmers increased acreage of most crops during the 2003 season, the first substantial increase in crop acres for the past seven years. Peanut and tobacco producers increased planted acres 6 and 10%, respectively, while cotton acres declined 5%. The decline in cotton was mainly due to wet, waterlogged soils during planting season.

During 2003 the row crops in Georgia were much improved over the drought damaged crops of the past five years. Increased soil moisture from ample and good distribution of rainfall along with cooler temperatures produced very beneficial growing conditions. Although there was some damage from flooding and waterlogged soils and an increase of disease brought in by torrential thunderstorms especially during July, the overall benefit from the rainfall far outweighed any damaging effects. The only site within our variety testing program that had long term damaging effects from the excessive rainfall was Midville, which experienced waterlogged soil conditions throughout May, June, and July. Standing water from the excessive rainfall, puddling of the soil, and soil compaction severely affected peanut and cotton production. Midville had almost 13 inches of rain during July, 271% more than normal. Areas around Athens received almost 14 inches of rain in July but the damage was not as severe as the area south of Augusta. A dry fall during September, October, and November helped the harvest season begin early and progress at a rapid rate. All crop yields increased over the past year, with a few new record per acre yields. Peanuts set a new state per acre yield record at 3,400 pounds per acre and produced 39% more pounds than 2002. The previous state record for peanuts was 3,375 pounds per acre set in 1984. Per acre yield of cotton was 800 pounds which increased production 36% over 2002. Yield per acre of tobacco was 2,200 pounds producing 15% more than during the 2002 season.