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

Research Report 691
December 2003

Table of Contents


J. LaDon Day, Anton E. Coy, and Paul A. Rose, Editors

The Season

Growing conditions improved dramatically during the 2003 crop season as a more normal rainfall pattern 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 six test locations in Georgia and at Marianna, Florida 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 during the May, June, and July months. For example, during May, June, and July at the Midville site over 27 inches of rainfall was received, an amount of 15 inches more than normal (225% increase) for those three months. When averaged across all six sites during the 2003 growing season, rainfall was 31% more than normal.

2003 Rainfall1

Month Athens2 Calhoun3 Griffin Midville Plains Tifton Marianna, FL4
------------------------------------------------------ inches -------------------------------------------------------
March 7.22 4.90 6.98 8.44 4.85 8.22 8.18
April 2.75 4.80 5.60 5.41 5.39 3.47 4.89
May 7.94 11.75 8.36 8.33 6.77 1.26 3.11
June 8.42 3.64 10.37 6.01 4.64 6.51 6.11
July 13.77 7.76 7.87 12.69 5.91 7.37 7.84
August 1.91 5.46 1.91 2.91 6.34 8.05 5.99
September 3.49 2.96 3.46 1.71 2.33 4.00 2.39
October 1.97 0.28 0.84 3.55 2.36 4.60 3.58
November 3.50 5.69 3.16 1.50 1.15 1.22 3.04
Total 50.97 47.24 48.55 50.55 39.74 44.70 45.13
Normal (9 mo) 36.76 38.89 36.77 33.95 35.29 35.11 -
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 increased acreage of crops during the 2003 season, the first substantial increase in crop acres of most commodities during the past seven years. Soybean acres increased for the first time in the past seven years, up 28%. Grain sorghum and forage crop acreage held steady this year, same as 2002.

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 flooded hay pastures, some for extended periods, 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. Midville had almost 13 inches of rain during July, 271% more than normal. A dry fall during September, October, and November helped the harvest season begin early and to progress at a rapid rate. All crop yields increased over the past year, with a few new record per acre yields. Soybeans set a new state per acre yield record at 33 bushels per acre and produced 102% more bushels than 2002. The previous state soybean record was 31 bushels per acre set in 1994. Although hay and forage harvested acres decreased by 3%, production increased 7% over 2002.