Georgia’s peanut crop for 2011 can best be described as a mixed bag, with yields ranging from record-high levels all the way down to zero, says John Beasley, University of Georgia Extension peanut agronomist.

This year’s Georgia Peanut Tour focused on the southwest corner of the state, not indicative of fields throughout the state’s peanut belt, says Beasley.

“We’re looking at an area that is heavily irrigated,” he says. “Probably 90-plus percent of this crop is irrigated. In most years in Georgia, about 50 percent of our peanut acreage can be irrigated. This year, however, we feel it is less than that because more cotton acreage was put under irrigation.”

At planting time this year, cotton prices were much more attractive than peanuts, so more growers put their irrigated land into cotton, says Beasley

“Things began changing as we got into the planting season. People were trying to plant early, and in June, conditions became excessively dry as growers continued planting. Then, farmers were trying to plant much later than they normally would.”

Some areas of Georgia have been drier than others in 2011, says Beasley. “In the past three weeks, I’ve walked fields that will have zero yield potential. Some growers have planted seed and applied fungicides, herbicides and insecticides, but they will get no yield from their crop,” he said during the last week of September.

“We’ve also walked some fields where farmers had crop insurance, and the yield potential was 100 to 300 pounds per acre. We’re looking at yield potential versus the cost of digging those peanuts out of the ground so we can advise our growers.”

Yield estimates from Sept. 12 NASS report showed Georgia yield potential at 3,400 pounds per acre. “That sounds pretty good since we set a record in 2009 of 3,560 pounds per acre and tied that record last year. But they’re not factoring in the zeros or the abandoned crop. The average yield is a little deceptive because it is based on the crop that is harvested and weighed.

I can’t say if that number is too low, too high or right on target.”