Rain comes at bad time for farmers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Rain comes at bad time for farmers

September 18, 2002

Terrell County peanut farmer Wilbur Gamble checks his fields. "it will take a while to get that dry," he said inspecting some peanuts.

Looking at the peanuts already harvested, now waiting to be picked up, and also the rain guages, he doesn't like what he sees.

"We had 5.5 inches Saturday night, would have been nice to have rain in July or August, but it's getting time of year we need some dry weather." The story much the same around South Georgia where 24 hour rainfall amounts from noon Saturday to Sunday were from two to 14 inches, with most of the peanut belt part of the way through the harvest.

"These peanuts ready to go, should have been picked up last week," he said. 

So now farmers play the waiting game, waiting on the fields to dry so they can get heavy machinery  into the fields. "What we need now is sunshine," Gamble said.

Many farmers are sure to lose at least five percent of peanuts fluffing them to get those out of the ground driven back in by rain. And they might lose more if the vines fall apart before they can get to them. But the story isn't all bad for peanuts not already harvested. Though, Terrell county's agent says that might be as little as ten percent. As for cotton, there are problems there too, as boll rot is more likely because of the late rain.

Rain covered fields, are certainly not what farmers wanted to see at this point in the season.

"We went from extreme dry to extreme wet," Gamble said.  But if there's one thing farmers have come to expect, it's undpredictable weather not often in their favor.

Peanut farmers say they'll be watching Tropical Storm Isidore very closely. If it drops as much rain as Hannah did before they can get their crop to the market, they fear they might lose it all together.

posted at 5:40 p.m. by dave.d'marko@walb.com