All of his acreage was planted in the GA-06G variety. “We already harvested about 150 acres of dryland peanuts, but we struggled with drought on those,” he said.

On the first day of the Georgia peanut Tour, Neil and his father Ronnie were “fluffing” a field of irrigated peanuts that already had been dug, but had been rained upon. “We do this after a rain to lift peanut vines and let air get in there to dry the peanuts that are on the ground. It also helps to prevent vines from sticking to the ground, making them easier to pick,” he says.

In addition to about 1,200 acres of peanuts, the Lee family also grows corn, cotton and wheat, keeping a four to five-year rotation for their peanuts.

Lee County Extension Agent Doug Collins agrees with others that the peanut crop looks very good this season. Seventy-percent of the county’s 18,985 peanut acres are irrigated, and he estimates a final yield of close to two tons per acre.

Collins says peanuts were planted from very late March into June. Rainfall amounts throughout the county have been very variable, he adds, and herbicide-resistant Palmer amaranth pigweed and sicklepod have been the most troublesome weed pests.

In adjacent Terrell County, Extension Agent David Wagner says peanut acreage increased significantly this year, with more than 16,000 acres planted. Almost 60 percent of the peanuts are irrigated, so a little less than half of the peanut crop suffered because of drought, he said. Dry weather also brought spider mites which defoliated many dryland fields early, causing a loss of pods and poor grades.

Terrell County did receive much more rain this year than in 2011, says Wagner, but there were many days of cloudy skies, high humidity and no rainfall. These conditions contributed to an increase in disease pressure and more costs for growers, he says.

If the county’s crop can be harvested with no major losses due to weather or plant disease, Wagner is hopeful that his growers will produce more than 26,000 tons of peanuts.

In nearby Mitchell County, Extension Agent Max DeMott says his growers planted about 32,098 acres of peanuts this year, with 77 percent of the crop being irrigated. He says Mitchell County usually averages about 4,000 to 4,500 pounds of peanuts per acre, but he expects this year to be much higher.

Some dryland fields have already been harvested at 4,500 pounds per acre, says DeMott, and while insects and diseases have been a problem this year, he predicts an excellent crop overall.

phollis@farmpress.com