Georgia’s largest peanut crop in more than 20 years could produce great results come harvest season, says Scott Monfort, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension peanut agronomist.
“You never know what might happen from now until harvest season, but at this point in time, I’d say we probably have the best crop we’ve had in several years,” Monfort said. “Now, we don’t know what’s in the ground, but just looking at the plants and what I’ve pulled up so far, the pod load looks wonderful.”
Monfort attributes Georgia’s strong crop to timely rainfall in south Georgia throughout the summer. Since about half of Georgia’s peanuts are produced on dry land, or land without access to irrigation, growers rely on rain to produce a good crop.
“Where we are today is impressive considering that our growers had a rough start getting this crop up and going. We got a lot of rain early, then we got very dry and then we got spotty. Once we got this crop going and started getting some of these rains, the plants have been improving daily,” Monfort said. “We just need for these rains and this sunshine to continue, not just overcast skies.”
Along with timely rainfall, Georgia’s peanut crop needs lower temperatures, which are predicted for August.
“Usually in August, temperatures are running anywhere between 95 degrees (Fahrenheit) and 100 degrees. Nighttime temperatures are up. We’re also a little bit drier, so the plant is struggling to produce peanuts,” Monfort said. “Having a little breather in temperature will allow the plants to be more efficient.”
Georgia farmers started planting peanuts in late March and finished in early July. There are 828,000 certified peanut acres planted in Georgia this year, the state’s highest amount since the early ’90s, Monfort said. Georgia produced 714,168 acres of peanuts last year.
“Hopefully the industry understands what’s coming ahead and they’re getting rid of the peanuts from last year,” he said.
An abundant crop means farmers could flood the state’s buying points with excess peanuts. However, Georgia’s long planting season should help alleviate those concerns.
“Usually we can get all of the peanuts planted in a four- to five-week window. This results in (having) all of those peanuts harvested and brought to the buying points at one time. At least, this year, we’re spread out over a couple of months. That will help,” Monfort said.
(Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.)