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Peanut Harvest Better than Expected


Photo: Dan Rahn

The peanut combines finished their dusty harvest in November in Georgia. The final numbers aren't in, but farmers are giving thanks for a better crop than they expected.
If a current forecast holds true, Georgia farmers will produce more peanuts this year than last year. Considering drought has dominated the state for three straight years, the crop this season has turned into a pleasant surprise.

According to the Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service, peanut production for Georgia is forecast at 1.42 billion pounds. This is 8 percent more than an earlier prediction for the state, and 1 percent better than the crop last year.

"I was quite surprised that the estimate jumped that much," said John Beasley, a University of Georgia Extension Service agronomist.

2,800 Pounds per Acre

Farmers are expected to yield about 2,800 pounds per acre. This is 200 pounds more than last month's forecast and 225 pounds more than the 1999 yield.

Looking back over the growing season, Beasley said this type of production year seemed unbelievable.

"Considering the way this year started out with drought and all the problems we were having and even though we got timely rains in August and September, we were still way behind on rainfall," Beasley said.

Problems, Problems

Growers not only battled weather this season. They also had to deal with weed pressure, the plant-crippling Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus and other yield-reducing diseases.

Though the timely rains kept the crop from going downhill for many growers, Beasley said, some farmers were not able to combat the extreme weather and had to abandon some fields.

"But overall, as we continued through harvest it seemed everybody was pleased with their total production," he said. "And the quality (of the crop) has been excellent. We're a lot better than average on quality this year."

Finally, Good Weather

Weather conditions favored the farmers getting into their fields and getting out the crop.

"Harvest conditions were excellent: clear, breezy and with low humidity," he said. September rains hurt some peanuts ready for harvest, but for the most part, improved the peanuts still maturing.

"We'd love to get back to the 3,200 (pounds per acre) we made in 1985. But if you told the farmers at the start of this season that with the drought and all the problems we were having we'd be making 2,800 (pounds per acre), they'd have thought you were crazy," Beasley said. "It was a surprisingly good year."

(Brad Haire is the former news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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