Despite Drought, Northeast Still May Be Crop Garden Spot

Last week's storm front brought much needed, but spotty, rainfall to Northeast farms and generally improved crop conditions.

Published on: Jul 25, 2012

Every day, you hear about how bad the drought of 2012 is in the Midwest and West. But Northeast regional crop conditions are far more important to local and regional livestock producers.

So here's a quick peek at crop conditions in what may well be the garden spot of U.S. agriculture. Crop conditions as of last Friday were released on Monday by the National Agricultural Statistics Service reporters in Delaware, Maryland, New England, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

The good news was that there were plenty of days suitable for field work. The bad news was that most farmers would have preferred a few more rainy days.

Despite Drought, Northeast Still May Be Crop Garden Spot
Despite Drought, Northeast Still May Be Crop Garden Spot

Crop progress is generally far ahead of the five-year average. In Pennsylvania, for instance, corn silking was 75% complete last week compared to 50% last year and 54% for the five-year average.

Delaware and Maryland
NASS reporters in these Mid-Atlantic states noted that topsoil moisture ratings remained short in Delaware and adequate in Maryland. Subsoil ratings were short in both Delaware and Maryland.

Hay supplies were adequate in both states. Pasture conditions were fair in Maryland and poor in Delaware.  Corn and soybeans were in good to fair condition across both.

Crop progress was substantially ahead of the five-year average. This week, dairy farmers on Eastern Shore were starting silage harvest on drought-damaged corn.

Late-week storms brought much needed rainfall to some areas. Soil moisture levels in both states were eased somewhat, although dry conditions still dominated.

New England
Hot dry conditions dominated the week, putting western Massachusetts in a moderate drought status. Scattered showers and thunderstorms  throughout  the  week averaged less than 1 inch of rainfall.

Hay field and pasture growth slowed due to inadequate moisture. Cornfields in drier areas also  showed signs of stress while others were tasseling and growing well.  Maine's  potato  crop  was  rated  in  excellent  to good  condition  by  week's  end. However, some potato plants began wilting from lack of moisture. Although late blight has been

New Jersey
Excessive heat continued throughout the week with temperatures in some areas reaching 102 degrees. Soil moisture conditions improved with rainfall arriving late in the week. But rainfall levels across the state were still well below normal.

Last week's rain fall was welcomed by producers. But grain growers were still concerned about field corn condition. Irrigation was necessary.

New York
A cold front brought a wide range of temperatures, showers and thunderstorms, but still left most of the state with dry conditions. Generally, most crops were still stressed with the worst conditions reported in the northern counties. The state's western plateau and Hudson Valley were the only areas to receive above normal rainfall.

The dry weather was hurting pastures. Many livestock producers have started feeding hay.

Pennsylvania
Only the south central region is averaging above normal rainfall for the growing season. And that's mostly due to heavy thunderstorms that rolled through last week.

The storm front brought scattered relief to much of the state with average weekly rainfall ranging from 2 to more than 4 inches. Western Pennsylvania's drought status may have been mitigated somewhat. But aside of the southwest region which received substantial precipitation, precipitation accumulations were still on the light side.

As of Friday, state-wide corn conditions were: 4% very poor, 10% poor, 33% fair, 40% good, and 13% excellent. Soybean conditions were: 0% very poor, 5% poor, 37% fair, 46% good, and 12% excellent. Quality of hay made was: 0% very poor, 7% poor, 29% fair, 47% good and 17% excellent. Pasture conditions were: 12% very poor, 51% poor, 27% fair, 9% good and 1% excellent.