“When the tobacco quota was eliminated, we decided we had to try something, so we again tried you-pick strawberries, and this time people starting coming. We also planted blackberries, and now we’re up to 65 acres.

“We still grow traditional row crops — 200 acres of peanuts and 400 acres of cotton. In some years we grow corn, in some years we don’t. In addition to strawberries and blackberries, we also grow you-pick nectarines and peaches. We have two you-pick locations, at Enigma and at Valdosta.”

When the tobacco buyout occurred, it was no longer feasible for them to grow the crop, says McMillan.

“Steve and I are the owners and operators — I manage the row crops and he manages the fruit and the peanut buying point. Steve’s wife, Laura, is our office manager, and his daughter, Jennifer, runs the Internet business that sells jams and jellies made from our fruit crops, along with other products. She also coordinates transportation at the peanut buying point.”

In 2012, McMillan says, his dryland peanuts yields averaged 5,732 pounds per acre and his irrigated peanuts yielded 5,991 pounds, an almost unheard-of balance considering recent drought years.

“We are on a three-year rotation. Mostly, it’s two years of cotton and then peanuts. Sometimes, we’ll throw corn into the mix, depending on prices.

“I put together a budget every February or March, and I have three scenarios. The worst-case scenario is that we don’t make anything. The second scenario is that we make our average over the years. The third is for a fantastic year — and last year was even better than the best projections.”

The peanut planting window has changed recently due to varieties that are more resistant to tomato spotted wilt virus and other diseases, says McMillan.

“Because of tomato spotted wilt virus, the recommendation was that we shouldn’t plant before May 1. But that has changed now. In January, when I’m planning my year, my goal is to be finished planting peanuts by May 1 and to be finished planting cotton by May. 10.”

While that plan worked last year, it hasn’t come close this year.

“This year is the latest we’ve ever planted. If last year was a dream year, this year started off as a nightmare. We had the same goals and same structure to carry it out, but the wet, cold weather this spring slowed us down.

“We were basically two weeks behind, and I don’t know how that’ll affect us. No one knows what a season will bring — I try not to worry about things I can’t change.”

Last year, McMillan planted his entire crop in the Georgia-06G variety. “We do a variety trial each year, and Georgia-06 was tops for about five consecutive years. I always carry it out with yield and grade to see which is the top money maker, and Georgia-06G has been at the top.