Despite the drought and recent cold weather, Georgia's peanut crop will be better than expected, but state cotton yields and quality struggle through another discouraging year, say University of Georgia experts.
Cooler Weather Stops
A cold snap last week threatened the state's peanut crop. When
temperatures fall into the 40's at night and remain cool during
the day, the peanut plant shuts down, postponing maturity.
that checked the maturity level of peanuts before the cool
will need to factor in the cool days.
The state will most likely not receive enough warm weather to
recharge maturity, said John Beasley, a University of Georgia
Extension peanut agronomist. Farmers shouldn't dig peanuts if
a freeze is forecast for the next day.
The peanuts are around 40 percent water when dug. A freeze could
damage the kernel inside the shell, destroying quality and
the farmer's profits. Low land areas in the northern part of the
state's peanut belt are at a greater risk than south Georgia
According to the Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service, state
yields are forecast to average 2,500 per acre.
"It seems reasonable that growers can reach this
Beasley said. "Overall, the crop is looking fair right
Yield potential will depend greatly on the availability of water
throughout the season, he said.
Earlier this season, considering the drought, disease and insect
pressure, the forecast seemed ambitious. However, growers have
combated adverse conditions with specific management practices
-- but not without paying the cost.
Beasley says early season peanut quality is higher than expected.
The quality of the $430 million crop usually increases as the
season progresses, peaking right before the end of digging.
quality early is a plus for growers.
A recent 10-day stretch of harvest-friendly weather invigorated
a harvest that began sluggishly.
"We made a tremendous amount of progress last week and the
week before," Beasley said. "We're going well past the
halfway point of getting this crop in. Next week we should have
a high percentage harvested as farmers hustle to get everything
out of the field."
Cotton farmers, however, are faced with less pleasant news.
Cotton Farmers Face Low Yields, Poor
According to the Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service, about
20 percent of the cotton crop was harvested as of Oct. 8.
Until this point, the cotton has been of poor quality, said Steve
Brown, a University of Georgia Extension cotton agronomist.
Due to extreme high temperatures this season, the cotton crop
was ready to harvest at least two weeks early. Half the crop was
ready for defoliation by mid-September, and as a result, the
during the first three weeks of the month significantly reduced
quality of the harvested cotton.
In addition to the low quality problems, cotton yields are down.
So far, irrigated cotton is producing about 800-900 pounds per
acre, about 300 pounds below normal.
Low yields can be blamed on the summer heat and late season's
boll rot. The state's five-year average is 650 pounds per acre,
but Brown said the average this year will most likely be around
600 pounds per acre.
"There is a lot of 400-pound dryland cotton out there,"
Brown said. "and many acres may pick only a half a
The third consecutive year of low rainfall forced farmers to
200,000 acres of cotton this year. "This will be our fourth
bad crop in a row," Brown said.
Recent cool weather has toughened the plants that remain to be
As warm weather returns to the area, there is hope yields and
quality will improve as harvest pushes
forward, Brown said.
Published on 10/17/00
Peanut Crop Fares Well, Cotton Struggles
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