Farmers hurry peanut harvest between rain showers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Farmers hurry peanut harvest between rain showers

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - It's a busy time for South Georgia farmers as they harvest some of their most important crops.

The peanut and cotton harvest could be key to the South Georgia economy during these tough times.

Lots of rain last spring and last week have made this a late harvest for many peanut farmers. Most will harvest cotton when they finish their peanuts, and that could be close to Thanksgiving for many. So many did not waste a second getting back to work.

Two tractors digging peanuts at Harvey Jordan Farms as fast as they can. The ground is still moist from last week's rains, and they have to cut dirt off the plow, but Jimmy Webb can't waste one second.

Webb said "We need to get them out of the ground. We're behind."

Rain forced Webb to sit out harvesting his 1000 acres of peanuts for the last 9 days. Today's sun was a blessing.  Even though he was the State's farmer of the year in 2005, Webb skipped this year's Sunbelt Ag Expo to get back to the harvest.

Webb said "Normally we would not be running with this much dirt. But it's late and we're worried about rain in here again Friday night."

This year Georgia farmers planted 30 percent less peanuts than in 2008, because of the huge surplus from last year's near record crop. But it looks like they will end up with about the same yield of peanuts.

Webb said "I think we got a good crop. What I've harvested out here is really good."

That's good news for South Georgia's economy. Agriculture is the number one industry in the state, and a good harvest will give the region a big boost.

Webb said "Maybe a good cotton and peanut crop will help keep the economy going down here in Southwest Georgia."

Webb hopes to finish his peanut harvest in ten days, if the weather will cooperate. They don't need more rain. After he finishes his peanuts, then they start their cotton harvest. And they are worried that it could be late in November, maybe in December before they finish. But the good news, the crops look good now.

As south Georgia loses more manufacturing jobs, agriculture is becoming even more important to our economic prosperity. Peanut butter sales are actually increasing during tough economic times, and most of this region's peanuts are used to make peanut butter.

Right now, peanut farmer expect to get about $400 a ton for their crop. That's about the same as last year.

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