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

2002-2003 Small Grain Performance Tests
Research Report Number 688
July 2003


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

The Season

For the fifth consecutive fall Georgia small grain producers of grain and forage were faced with planting into hot, dry soils, but the severe drought was broken in mid-September and farmers had to contend with wet field conditions the remainder of the planting season. Due to wet soils small grain planting was delayed until late in the season. Wheat acreage planted was 380,000 acres, an increase of 9% over the previous year. Oat acreage was 100,000 acres, 18% more than last year. Acres planted to rye were 8% above 2002 and totaled 270,000 acres.

The severe drought that began in April 1998 and continued during the summer of 2003 appeared unbreakable until tropical storm Hanna came into southwest Georgia during mid-September. Hanna produced beneficial rainfall for most of the state, however the southwest portion of the state around Donalsonville received 12-15 inches of torrential rainfall. The disaster continued two weeks later upon arrival of second tropical storm Isidore. Further, the wet, cloudy, drizzly weather continued over the next two months due to the remnants of Hurricane Lilli and numerous rain producing fronts.

Rainfall amounts recorded monthly at the six test locations during the 2002-2003 growing season are presented in the following table. All six test sites received above normal rainfall during the reporting period. The magnitude of the increase in rainfall this season over 2002 is impressive because two locations, Midville and Griffin, received 168 and 134% more rain, respectively, this reporting period that last year. The average rainfall this year across the state during the small grain growing season was 33% more than normal.

2002-2003 Rainfall1
Month Year Calhoun2 Griffin Midville Plains Tifton Marianna, FL3
------------------------------------------ inches ------------------------------------------
October 2002 7.11 7.72 3.66 4.63 6.06 7.36
November 2002 5.08 4.67 4.86 5.23 4.90 7.76
December 2002 8.43 5.19 4.98 4.97 3.66 5.99
January 2003 2.59 1.85 1.61 1.01 0.28 2.30
February 2003 7.80 5.83 4.69 4.56 4.26 7.03
March 2003 4.90 6.98 8.44 4.85 8.22 8.18
April 2003 4.80 5.60 5.41 5.39 3.47 4.89
May 2003 11.75 8.36 8.33 6.77 1.26 3.11
June 2003 3.64 10.37 6.01 4.64 6.51 6.11
Total (9 months) 53.10 56.57 47.99 42.05 38.62 52.73
Normal (9 months) 41.90 37.68 32.11 36.27 32.51 38.51
1. Data for Georgia sites collected by Dr. G. Hoogenboom, Georgia Station, Griffin, GA.
2. Floyd County location.
3. University of Florida North Florida Research and Education Center location.

The 2002-2003 small grain growing season in Georgia was characterized by cool weather and very wet conditions during the winter and spring. The persistent wet and cloudy weather increased diseases and reduced forage and grain production.

Seventy-five percent of this year's small grain crop had weather related problems. Adverse weather hampered getting combines into the fields thus delaying harvest and reducing quality by decreasing test weights and seed sprouted in the head. 230,000 acres of harvested wheat produced 23% more grain than the cold damaged crop of 2002. Oats and rye harvested for grain increased 80% and 11% over last year, respectively, but per acre yield and quality were problems.