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corn field in early summer; row crop update

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.—It has been a soggy summer for many of Alabama’s row crop producers. While it made grain harvest difficult, corn and seedling cotton welcomed the rainfall.

Regional Crops Updates

Southwest Alabama

Alabama Cooperative Extension System Regional Crops Agent, Guilherme Morata said the tropical storm brought significant rainfall to the southwest corner of the state. This caused many fields to have flooding issues.

“Some areas received nearly 14 inches of rain in five days,” Morata said. “Southern corn rust was detected in Baldwin County one week before the storm. After the storm, more Southern rust was found in the fields. Farmers should pay close attention to the disease, especially those with young corn.”

West Central Alabama

Counties in the west central Alabama also saw some rainfall, making for some challenging field work conditions.

John Vanderford, also a regional crops agent, said some fertilizer applications were delayed because of field conditions.

“Corn is looking good and benefitting from the timely rains,” Vanderford said. “Plant bugs continue to be the focus in cotton, but that will soon shift to stink bugs. Overall cotton is shaping up nicely throughout the region.”

Alabama Extension Cotton Entomologist Scott Graham said producers may see stink bugs feeding on smaller-than-normal bolls this year largely because of later-planted cotton.

“Many peanuts were also planted later but received their first round of fungicide where field conditions allowed and are looking good,” Vanderford said. “Soybeans are in good shape, but we did have the first reports of red-banded stinkbugs on soybeans in parts of central Alabama.”

Vanderford said continued scouting into late July and early August will be important.

Acreage Report and Row Crop Progress

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) planting estimates from June 30 show 410,000 acres of cotton in Alabama in 2021. This number is down from 450,000 acres in 2020 and 2019. Nationwide acreage is down to 11.7 million acres, only three percent lower than 2020.


“Much of our cotton is late, but favorable rainfall and moderate temperatures have pushed the crop along,” said Steve Brown, an Alabama Extension cotton agronomist. “This is perhaps making up for some of the delays brough on by harsh conditions and late planting.”

He said thrips injury was more prevalent and consequential than normal.

“If we had the opportunity to do it again, we should have been more aggressive with thrips management by spraying a lot of cotton in the one-leaf stage,” Brown said.

Brown and the crops team recommend some tweaks from normal cotton management.

  • With late-planted cotton, be more conservative with nitrogen and more aggressive with plant growth regulators (PGRs).
  • With sustained, favorable weather, be more aggressive with PGRs.

Brown and Alabama Extension Soil Scientist, Audrey Gamble, discussed fertilizer side-dressings on the Alabama Crops Report Podcast. Check out episode 16 for the full rundown on fertilizer applications to late-planted cotton.


Many growers are making the shift to early and ultra-early planting. Regional Extension Agent, Eddie McGriff, said ultra-early beans have a late-March to early-April planting window. Producers plant early beans in mid April and through the first of May.

McGriff said the beans planted during April are podding in late June and early July, so those beans are able to take advantage of longer days and increased photosynthesis. Beans podding by late June can take advantage of the longest day of the year June 21.

“Planting dates are important as producers try to plant while days are longer,” McGriff said. “More photosynthesis makes sugars that are put into pod production. This is what gives us typically our higher yields by planting in April versus May in Alabama.”

He also said that early planting may allow producers to escape some disease pressures typically seen later in the growing season, as well as have an upper hand on insect management.

The Alabama Crops Report Podcast featured McGriff with an in depth look at early soybeans in episode 18. Check out the full podcast by visiting www.aces.edu.

Alabama Row Crops Podcast

Much more information on row crop acreage reports, crop progress, fertilizer side-dressings and early-planted soybeans can be found in the most recent episodes of the Alabama Crops Report Podcast.

The Alabama Crops Report podcast is available on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify and Stitcher.

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