A trying time for Southwest Georgia farmers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

A trying time for Southwest Georgia farmers

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September 25, 2006

Calhoun County --  It's too wet to harvest peanuts today after Sunday's rain. Recent rain is also hurting the cotton crop already struggling from the summer drought.  

Calhoun County Farmer Jimmy Webb admits he is frustrated as he looks at his cotton and peanut fields. "See that dirt sticking on those peanuts. You can't plow it up, it's too wet."

Webb has a number of tractors sitting idle, this weekend's rain might take a week to dry before he can start harvesting his peanuts.

Webb said, "Typical farmer. We also fuss about the weather, too wet, too dry. That's something we can't control. But it looks good, it looks good."

After months of running irrigation machines in May, June, and July, now September rains are making a good looking peanut crop sit in the field. But worse news, Webb says the rains are hurting South Georgia cotton.

The cotton bolls are breaking open, and the rain is ruining them. "He'll never fluff out. He'll just stay right there and rot," Webb said.

The cotton needs sun to stop that rot, any more rain will kill the quality, and the price the farmer will get. "We ginned the most we have ever ginned at our gin last year. We sure not going to set any records this year," Webb said.

Webb said Georgia farmers who did not irrigate are in trouble. "Last year they made from one thousand to 1,500 pounds. This year they are going to be lucky if they make a bale."

After spending between $50 to $75  per acre to irrigate crops, now South Georgia farmers are praying that the rain will stop.  "Nothing but sunshine, dry weather is what we need from here on out," Webb said.

Webb says this frustration is just part of the life of a farmer. But South Georgia's economy will depend a lot upon the next month's weather.

University of Georgia crop analysts say they expect the state's yields of peanuts and cotton to be down from the last three years.  Last year, according to the State Agriculture Department, there were 1.33 million acres of cotton harvested, with a yield of 1.7 million bales.

State Ag analysts say cotton needs dry weather until harvest time to save much of this year's crop.

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