South Carolina Drought Affecting Crop Yields

Randall Weiseman Drought

By Karla Arboleda

two alabama

Coupled with high temperatures, the recent drought in South Carolina is affecting crop yields in peanuts and cotton.

The combination of hot and dry weather will result in lower crop yields, according to Charles Davis, a county Extension agent at Clemson University. Peanut and cotton harvests are underway. Davis explained how yield results also depend on the soil plants are growing in and the county in which they are located.      

“In our heavier soils, cotton yields and peanut yields are down maybe 20 percent,” Davis said. “In our sandier soils, cotton and peanut yields are probably down 40 percent.”

While the hot weather is typical in South Carolina, the drought is lasting longer than usual. Davis said the state is about 12 inches behind in rainfall that is essential for these crops.

In a normal year, Davis said, peanuts harvested from sandier soils would yield 3,500 to 4,000 pounds of peanuts per acre, but those numbers will be between 2,000 and 3,000 pounds this year. (Cotton yields are expected to fall within 400 to 800 pounds per acre, depending on soil type and rainfall for an area.

“We’re only two weeks away from a drought in South Carolina on any given year,” Davis said. “Normally we’ll get some rains in July, but this has been kind of a sustained deal.”

The latest crop progress report in South Carolina shows little rain, low soil moisture and acceptable crop quality. Harvesting conditions for cotton will be ideal with this weather pattern, but peanut crops in tough soils could have harvests below their maximum potential.