Tennessee soybean farmers continue on the march towards harvest with a majority of the state's soybean crop in healthy condition. Last week’s mild temperatures and slightly dry weather combined to keep soybeans heading in a positive direction as the calendar turns to September.
With 77% of the state’s soybean crop in good/excellent condition, Tennessee currently has the best soybeans in the country.
Tennessee soybean progress and condition
USDA rated Tennessee soybeans 2% very poor, 5% poor, 16% fair, 58% good, and 19% excellent the week ending Sept. 3, very similar numbers to last week.
Despite the strong condition of the soybeans, 92% of the state's soybean crop has set pods, 2% behind the five-year average, and 3% behind last year’s progress at this time.
The latest Crop Progress report shows 18% of soybeans in Tennessee have begun dropping leaves. That's 4% ahead of this time in 2022 and 4% ahead of the five-year average.
Recent Tennessee weather
The Tennessee state climatology department says temperatures were normal or slightly below average the week ending Sept. 3. Some counties in southwest Tennessee had temperatures 2 to 4ºF below average for the week, according to data from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center.
In the same time period, the state was mostly dry with little to speak of in the way of precipitation. Several counties reported strong storms and heavy precipitation, including Stewart and Montgomery counties.
Maps generated by the Iowa Environmental Mesonet indicate precipitation departures as high as 12 inches over the last five months. In just the last month, counties like Obion, Weakley, and Henry have seen nearly 9.42 inches more precipitation than the average. Only a small chunk of north central Tennessee counties reported precipitation totals that were below the average from Aug. 4 to Sept. 3.
The most recent Crop Progress report rated Tennessee topsoil moisture as 4% very short, 19% short, 75% adequate, and 2 % surplus. Subsoil moisture was 4% very short, 15% short, 79% adequate, and 2% surplus.
Latest Tennessee drought conditions
A drought map published Aug. 31 shows more than 99% of the state without drought conditions, with only 0.4% of Tennessee experiencing abnormally dry conditions.
It has been a very light year for drought in Tennessee, with no part of the state experiencing any D1 moderate drought since the calendar turned from 2022 to 2023.
In the past three months, conditions have improved steadily in the state, from about 15% of the state in D0 abnormally dry conditions in May to less than half a percent at the end of August.
Of the state’s 95 counties, none have USDA disaster designations.
A look at Tennessee history
The National Integrated Drought Information System reports July 2023 was the 31st-wettest on record for the state with precipitation of 5.49 inches, 1.1 inches above the average. Records go back to 1895.
So far, 2023 is shaping up to be the 60th-wettest year in history for the Volunteer state.