Dry weather culprit for weak harvest

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 6, 2001

Features Editor

The numbers are in from

the 2000 crop year and they reflect the prolonged hot and dry weather over much of the state.

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According to information released by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, cotton planted acreage for 2000 was 590,000 acres. Harvested area was 530,000 acres, with 60,000 acres abandoned mainly because of the drought.

Peanuts were also stressed for water as the Wiregrass region received roughly one-third to one-half of normal annual precipitation.

Peanut farmers planted 2000,000 acres and harvested 192,000 acres. Abandonment of 8,000 acres was much above the normal abandonment of 1,000 or so acres.

Yields varied across the region with an average of 1,420 pounds per acre, one-third less than normal. Peanut production was recorded as

the smallest since 1980.

As the drought worsened, cattle producers were scrambling to find enough hay to supplement dried-up pastures. Only 720,000 acres of hay were cut this year with an average yield of 1.8 tons per acre, well below the 2 plus ton averages in normal years.

The Alabama Agricultural Statistics Service provided the following information:


Corn production was 10,7 million bushels, 48 percent below last year’s crop. Yield at 65 bushels per acre was 38 bushels below 1999 record yield. Production was harvested from 165,000 acres, 35,000 below 1999.


Cotton production at 540,000 bales was down 14 percent from 1999. This places the state’s yield from 535,000 harvested acres at 489 pounds of lint per acre, 46 pounds below 1999 and 306 pounds below the record set in 1985.


Peanut production was 272.6 million pounds, 39 percent below 1999. Yields per acre averaged 1,420 pounds, compared with 2,175 pounds the previous year and 1,540 pounds below the record yield in 1984. Final harvested acreage was 192,000 acres down 14,000 acres from 1999. Producers abandoned a record 8,000 acres because of the drought.

According to information released by the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, Alabama’s cowherd is at a 50-year low. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Jan.1 cattle inventory report showed the number of cattle in Alabama decline 7 percent to 1,360,000 head. Nationally, cattle numbers declined 1 percent to 97.3 million head.

Alabama’s decline was attributed to the summer’s devastating drought. Many producers were forced to reduce their herds or sell out completely.

However, the outlook is bright for the beef cattle producer. Beef demand is up and industry experts are predicting strong cattle prices for the next three years.