South Georgia crops are growing despite dry weather

CAMILLA, GA (WALB) - The corn in Mitchell County is coming in nicely, with fine looking leaves of green.

"The corn crop is looking good," said Calvin Perry from the C.M. Stripling Irrigation Research Park in Camilla.

Peanuts and cotton go into the ground later, so they're not as far along.  But they're still budding in most locations.  Most large farms rotate through a mix of the three crops, and that's the case this year as well.

Perry said, "we're hearing that there will be a traditional mix of crops. We'll still be having the peanuts, cotton, corn.  And in this part of the state, sweet corn."

How much of each is determined by the commodity prices.  When it was planted, corn was drawing a good price at more than 6 dollars a bushel.

Peanuts and cotton were bringing good prices as well. But now that they've been planted, these crops need some help.

And the big question is what will happen as these crops come closer to harvest time.  Much of the answer to that question is determined by how much rain nature provides.

All three of the big row crops in South Georgia have one thing in common.

Perry said, "corn is water intensive, but so is cotton and so is peanuts."

That means that they need plenty of rainfall.

"They all require 22 to 24 inches of total water to produce a good yield," said Perry.

If it doesn't come from the sky, then it often has to come from center pivots like this one.  As technology has improved, they've gotten better at delivering water to where it's needed.

"They're in that 90 to 95 per cent efficiency range," said Perry.

That means that at least nine out of every ten drops that come out of this nozzle will make it to the ground - and eventually the crop.

Efficiency is important, after all every gallon of water that the farmer has to spray from these nozzles is money lost during the season.  But farmers might be getting some good news from nature.

"We've been following the long term climate prognosticators.  And they tell us that La Nina is ending or at least going into a neutral phase, which hopefully means more rain for us," said Perry.

The current Climate Prediction Center forecast does call for normal rainfall. And if it the rains do come as expected, then these crops - and the farmers who tend to them - will both be happy this season.

Copyright 2012 WALB.  All rights reserved.