Still hope for an above average peanut crop despite weather - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Still hope for an above average peanut crop despite weather

By  Stephanie Springer  - bio | email

CORDELE, GA (WALB) –South Georgia's economy is dependant on agriculture, and since Georgia counts for 40 to 50 percent of the U.S. peanut crop, a good yield is especially important.

2009 was a record year for Georgia peanut farmers, with more than 3,500 pounds per acre.

But can growers have just as much success if not more this year? Experts say right now, its not likely. "How low the yield potential will go, we don't know and we don't know how high it will go either," said John Beasley, UGA extension peanut Agronomist.

And the reason is simple; lack of rain combined with these unusually hot temperatures."When you combine the two the plants struggle. Right now a majority of the crop is at a critical stage of development," said Beasley.

UGA extension Agronomist John Beasley spoke to more than a hundred people today at a pre-harvest meeting in Cordele where he addressed some of those concerns. "This year we got some areas that had decent rainfall and are not looking as bad as others. The western part of the peanut belt and the Albany area near the hotchpotch river has been hit hard," said Beasley.

But Beasely says there is still plenty of hope for an above average crop. "If we see more frequent rain events at least over the next 4 to 6 weeks we still have the potential to make an above average crop," said Beasley.

But Beasley says the intense heat interferes with the plants ability to set a crop. "The plant is pulling a lot of moisture out of the soil, and it only takes about 3 days for a water deficit because the peanuts are in the top 3 inches of the soil," said Beasley.

So producers with irrigation need to be putting out at least an inch or two of water per week because without rain that's as much as you are going to lose. And for growers without irrigation, Beasley recommends praying for rain.

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