'Mysterious Crash' during peanut harvest investigated

'Mysterious Crash' during peanut harvest investigated
Koehler said contracts for this year's crop are paying about $400 a ton. (Source: WALB)
Koehler said contracts for this year's crop are paying about $400 a ton. (Source: WALB)
Georgia Peanut Commission Director Don Koehler (Source: WALB)
Georgia Peanut Commission Director Don Koehler (Source: WALB)

WORTH CO., GA (WALB) - The Georgia Peanut Commission director said it doesn't appear there will be a new record peanut crop this year, but still a very strong crop yield. A mysterious crash during the peanut harvest is being blamed.

Georgia Peanut Commission Director Don Koehler looked over a harvested peanut field, where there were peanuts lost during the digging of the crop.

Across South Georgia farmers reported a crash starting in mid-October and lasting into the first of November. During that period farmers said their harvesters left a lot of peanuts in the field.

"They are telling me they might be from 700 to even one thousand pounds.  What they left in the field, of what they really made," said Koehler.

The state record high peanut yield is 4,600 pounds per acre. Koehler said the state average for this year's crop is about 4,200 pounds per acre. But he is confident this year's yield would have been a new record, except for the crash.

Agronomists are studying the mysterious crash. For a while experts thought that salt water from Hurricane Irma may have caused the crash, but they have since ruled that out.

"We are looking right now at trying to identify anything we can that may be a problem that's fixable in the future so we are working with our agronomists at the University of Georgia," said Koehler.

Koehler said contracts for this year's crop are paying about $400 a ton. Sales are strong and most of the crop is expected to be moved quickly.

"Try and find someways for these farmers to survive because it's tough when they are not paying back their operating notes. It's become the new reverse mortgage when farmers are having to really take notes against their farm just to survive," said Koehler.

The Commission hopes this year's  strong sales will drive up the contract price next year, to close to $500 per ton.

Georgia Peanut Commission agronomist suspect that shortened rotation between peanut crops could have led to the crash.  So officials are suggesting that farmers rotate other crops into their peanut fields, for better sustainability.

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