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According to southwest Georgia peanut grower Todd Powell, everyone in his area had good crop potential early in the year and then the drought hit. He goes on to say he has probably the best crop ever, but it came with a price in irrigation expenses, which must be added back into production costs.
“In some years, I grow a little dryland and a little irrigated. This year, I rolled the dice and irrigated 100 percent of it — there’s a lot of luck in farming,” said the Sumter County, Ga., producer during the recent Georgia Peanut Tour.
Others, especially in southwest Georgia and Alabama, have not been so lucky, with some growers not seeing more than a trace of rain in the last month and a half.
“It has been really dry here,” says Powell. “Everyone had good crop potential early in the year, and then the drought and heat hit us. We have dryland peanuts in this area that are pitiful — there’s no other word for it.”
But the crop that Powell calls probably the best he has had didn’t come without a price. “Irrigation pulled me through this year, but you have to add all of those expenses back into your production,” he says.
Whenever a peanut plant sets fruit, explains Powell, it needs at least 1 inch of water per day every six to seven days to make a crop. “This year, with the intensity of the heat and drought, we could put on an inch of water and the peanuts would be stressed in three days. In a normal year, after the peanuts are dug, it would take about four days to get the moisture level down to 18 percent, and then you’d still have to dry them down to about 10 percent. This year, they’re already down to 10 percent after three days,” he says.