Early County farmers hit hard by Ivan - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Early County farmers hit hard by Ivan

September 17, 2004

Early County -- Twisters and heavy rains devastated crops in Early county. Early estimates show the county lost almost of half its cotton crop and there is uncertainty over how much of the peanut crop can be saved.

Farmer Ricky Taylor was too busy to talk, as he and his wife work to clear away extensive damage two powerful tornadoes did in their front yard. Twisters snapped huge trees in half and peeled open shelters for heavy farm equipment.

Unfortunately, for Taylor the damage in his front yard is not the only thing he has to deal with the other part of the damage lies in his crop fields.

"This particular field has probably 15 to 20 %, that's just in cotton lost," says extension agent, Brian Cresswell.

Cresswell says for Taylor and farmers all over Early County the news isn't good. Almost half of the county's cotton crop was ripped from the stalk, destroyed by twisters from Ivan.

"There is a good bit more cotton on the ground and I'm saying about 40 to 45% is what we lost and tack on the sprouted seed and most of the cotton that has started to grow and we have to spray it for re-growth," says Cresswell.

On top of that, heavy rain from Ivan have made fields too wet to harvest. That rain water will affect this county's other major crop, peanuts.

"History tells us that the peanuts will either sprout or come off and that's what we are probably looking at," says Cresswell.

Cresswell says even with a few more dry days to harvest there is too little left for many farmers to make ends meet. Many are depending on their crop insurance. For now they're hoping the worst weather is behind them.

Luckily, officials tells us that about 90 % of the farmer's in Early County have some form of crop insurance.

Farmers aren't the only ones worried about the damage Ivan has done to peanut crops, peanut processors are concerned too.

Although tornadoes caused major damage at the Bird Song peanut plant in Early county ,workers are more concerned about this year's harvest than building damage.

"The additional rain that Ivan brought in stopped the harvest and we were starting to get peanuts in, but we are not getting peanuts in anymore," says Greg Grimsley, manager at Birdsong.

Grimsley says although they've seen a slow down, they don't expect it will have a significant effect on their business.

posted at 5:50PM by scott.hunter@walb.com

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