Georgia agriculture has best year to date - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Georgia agriculture has best year to date

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

2012 will go down as one of the best year's ever for Georgia's top industry, agriculture.    

It looks as if farmers will pick record harvests for peanuts and cotton. But they may not reap the financial bonanza they hoped for.

It comes down to simple supply and demand. Georgia farmers have proved they are remarkable producers this year making crops never before seen. 

But the volume of their work has forced the price for their crops down.

As the cotton harvest closes out across most of South Georgia, the USDA estimates it will be the best in state history for both yield and total production.

The November forecast is for more than 1000 pounds per acre up 12 percent from last year. 

"Most of us that work in cotton everyday around here can't believe the kind of crop that we're having this year," said Dr. Don Shurley, University of Georgia Cotton Economist.

Along with that huge Georgia production, cotton supplies have exploded worldwide. The price has dropped between 20 to 25 cents per pound since planting. Growers with good yields will make some profit, but the economic impact and job creation from this huge crop will be widespread.

"It's a tremendous multiplier effect back to pay bills. You got gins all over the state. And also about 70 percent of this is headed overseas. So a big boost to the port over in Savannah and other places like that," said Shurley.

Georgia had one of the smallest peanut crops in decades last year. The USDA's estimate is that the 2012 crop is 77 percent bigger than last year's.

"We've gone from nearly running out of peanuts to where we are going to have way too many peanuts," said Dr. John Beasley, University of Georgia Agronomist.

The average yield is 4, 450 pounds per acre. Georgia's projected yield more than 3.2 billion pounds.  Again the huge crop put lots of people to work and had a huge economic impact, but the individual grower is barely breaking even.

"If you were making that five or six or seven thousand pounds per acre and you had pretty average input costs you probably made a little money.  But in some the margins were still pretty thin," said Beasley.

Georgia will produce more than half the amount of peanuts that the entire country usually consumes per year totally. 

Currently warehouses in South Georgia are jammed with peanuts waiting to be purchased by manufacturers.

China will buy most of that cotton that Georgia produces. As for peanuts, record high yields are also expected in Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia.  So what was a peanut shortage last year is now a totally flooded pipeline.

Many peanut growers are already looking at producing more corn, wheat and soybeans next year moving away from peanuts.

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