December Agricultural Summary
Temperatures from the Mississippi Valley eastward were well above normal during December, allowing producers additional time to complete fieldwork while aiding the establishment of winter wheat. Most notably, temperatures in the Great Lakes Region, Ohio Valley, and Mid-Atlantic Coast averaged more than 9 degrees above normal. In the West, monthly temperatures were slightly below normal. Precipitation levels were generally within 3 inches of normal across most of the Nation. In early December, rain events on the Northern Pacific Coast caused as much as 8 inches of precipitation. Another exception included significant rainfall from the Southern Plains to the Middle Mississippi Valley and the Southeast later in the month.
Most of the winter wheat crop was being reported in good or excellent condition by the end of December. In Kansas, winter wheat conditions were rated at 54 percent in the good to excellent categories at the end of month, up from 48 percent on November 29. Areas with some snow cover reported higher winter wheat ratings including Montana at 74 percent good to excellent, South Dakota at 71 percent good to excellent, and Nebraska at 59 percent good to excellent.
Pasture and range conditions varied throughout the Nation. In Colorado, pasture conditions at the end of the month were rated 62 percent in the good to excellent categories, up 12 percentage points from November 29. Oklahoma producers reported 36 percent of pasture in the good to excellent categories, down 8 percentage points from November 29. In North Carolina, pasture conditions were rated 28 percent in the good to excellent categories, down 9 percentage points from November 29.
During the month of December, Florida producers experienced above-average temperatures and above-average precipitation in the Florida Panhandle and southern region. There was an increase in early orange harvest activities at the beginning of the month. Producers reported overall good quality in fresh fruit but fruit size was small compared to a normal year. By the end of December, most processing plants were open for the season. Navel orange and grapefruit harvest schedule was slightly lagging behind last season.
Late-season row crop harvesting continued in some southern States throughout December but was mostly complete as the month ended. In Texas and Arizona, cotton harvest was virtually complete. Rain events in Georgia delayed harvest and decreased quality of soybeans, cotton, and peanuts in many areas. Most of the cotton and peanut crops not harvested prior to December in South Carolina were likely to be left in the fields and destroyed as a result of October's historic flood and still soggy field conditions.