Georgia peanut farmers enjoyed a record-breaking crop in 2012. A repeat this year, however, is unlikely according to University of Georgia Extension peanut agronomist John Beasley.
“I just don’t think there’s any way we can reach that 4,500-, 4,600- or 4,700-pound yield potential. That was just so phenomenal last year,” said Beasley.
He expects Georgia’s weather conditions over the past several months have adversely affected the state’s third-ranked agricultural commodity.
“Even though we’ve had some very pleasant weather, temperature wise, we probably had too much rain on a lot of fields. We’ve lost portions of some fields because of too much rain. We just don’t expect to have that kind of yield potential,” he said.
According to the Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network, Tifton received 57.3 inches of rain from Jan. 1-Sept. 11 — much more than the 41.81 inches total registered last year, when the state averaged 4,550 pounds of peanuts per acre. In Albany, 63.56 inches were recorded in 2013 compared to 30.06 inches last year and 26.85 inches in 2011.
Another reason Georgia’s peanut production could see a dip is the fact that considerably fewer acres were planted this year as opposed to 2012. Some 730,000 acres were planted last year, which Beasley noted was much higher than usual. According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, an estimated 430,000 acres were grown in Georgia this year.
Beasley is confident peanut yields will outperform the results tallied from 2009 through 2011. He predicts an average of 3,800-4,200 pounds will be harvested over the upcoming months.
“That would be outstanding compared to 2009 through 2011 because that would be a big jump over those. It would be disappointing compared to last year, but we have to remember last year was certainly an anomaly,” Beasley said.
Some peanut farmers who planted earlier this year are experiencing a longer growing season. Rainy conditions and a cooler spring are the contributing factors. Even if growers were able to plant in late April, the colder temperatures caused the plants to develop slower between seed germination, plant emergence and early season growth.
“It lengthened out that time period for those first blooms. Under normal temperatures, you expect blooms to start about 35 to 40 days. But with less heat accumulation early, they probably bloomed about 50 days. It stretched it out about a couple of weeks,” Beasley said.
With the early plantings, peanuts that normally take 145 days to mature are taking up to 155, he said. “Those planted a week or two later, all of a sudden, they’re kind of on time, and they’re meeting in the middle,” Beasley said.
To learn more about peanut production, see the website caes.uga.edu .
(Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.)