Peanut farmers heartbroken for loss of yield

Peanut farmers heartbroken for loss of yield

BAKER CO., GA (WALB) - Southwest Georgia’s rich agriculture industry has been hit hard by Hurricane Michael.

Heartbreaking is an understatement to describe what Tim Burch is feeling.

Peanuts in Burch's field that had not been harvested before Hurricane Michael (Source: WALB)
Peanuts in Burch's field that had not been harvested before Hurricane Michael (Source: WALB)

Burch said this year’s near perfect crop has been nearly destroyed.

Once thriving with acres of peanuts, a Baker County field, like many others in Southwest Georgia, is now nothing more than a grim reminder of the worst storm to ever hit the region.

Georgia is typically the biggest single state to produce peanuts in the U.S. But this year, Burch isn't so sure. (Source: WALB)
Georgia is typically the biggest single state to produce peanuts in the U.S. But this year, Burch isn't so sure. (Source: WALB)

“Biggest thing Michael did was wiped out our whole infrastructure or damaged it dramatically,” said Burch.

Power lines are still down in Baker County and warehouses are heavily damaged a week after the hurricane blew through.

But it’s the lack of electricity that’s delaying farmers from getting back into the fields.

Wagon covering destroyed because of Michael's winds (Source: WALB)
Wagon covering destroyed because of Michael's winds (Source: WALB)

"The buying points if they can't operate, they can't unload our wagons we can't harvest a crop."

Generators are running some buying points, but each one costs $5,000 to use per week.

One peanut buying point is using multiple generators to operate (Source: WALB)
One peanut buying point is using multiple generators to operate (Source: WALB)

"We need fair weather for a month to get this crop in."

I asked “How are you feeling right now? How did Michael make you feel?”

“Uh. We don’t need to go there,” Burch began to cry while walking off camera.

The emotions too high for him knowing that he’d only had time to harvest 100 of his 600 acres of peanut fields. He’s unsure how much he and other farmers will be able to salvage.

"We're just in limbo right now and struggling to do all we can do to preserve the crop and preserve the quality and get it in a warehouse so we can start another crop for next year."

Tim Burch, Baker County Peanut Farmer (Source: WALB)
Tim Burch, Baker County Peanut Farmer (Source: WALB)

Now he needs prayers and a paycheck to make it through this year.

“If I wasn’t a farmer I don’t know I would stay. I would go somewhere and might not come back to this area for awhile. It’s totally changed the landscape for the rest of my life.”

Burch explained farmers will recover, but he expects it to take months if not years.

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