Mother Nature blessed Georgia row-crop farmers in 2009 with perfect weather, which helped bring record-setting results. This year, however, she wasn’t as cooperative and sent the hottest April through September on record — the kind of weather that can hurt.

“It has been difficult to battle disease with this heat,” said Bob Kemerait, a plant pathologist with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. “White mold, leaf spot disease, southern corn rust — it has been a bad year for disease for our row crop growers and a lot of that is tied to weather pattern.”

Since July, white mold has caused the most problems for peanut growers. “The fungal structures of white mold were awakened by the extreme heat early in the growing season,” Kemerait said. “The scattered showers throughout the summer were like gasoline on a fire. This is the worst year for white mold in at least 20 years.”

But tomato spotted wilt virus, a disease that threatened to cripple the peanut industry in the 1990s, will likely affect less than 1 percent of the crop this year, he said. Improved varieties and management decisions by growers have made the disease less of a threat.

Peanuts not planted in fields with irrigation “are a disaster in some areas,” said John Beasley, a UGA Extension peanut agronomist. “Even irrigated crops have heat damage, especially the farms in the northwest part of the peanut belt that missed some of the rains other areas received.”

Without adequate moisture, peanuts can’t absorb the calcium they need to fully develop, he said. Farmers are harvesting peanuts now. The current clear skies, lack of humidity and breezy evenings are perfect for harvest.

According to the Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service, growers expect to yield an average of 3,300 pounds per acre, 7 percent less than last year’s record 3,560 pounds per acre average.

Growers are harvesting cotton now, too. “The yields are looking more and more optimistic as harvest progresses,” said Guy Collins, a UGA Extension cotton agronomist. “The hot, dry July could have severely reduced yield potential, but it doesn’t look as bad as we thought it would.”

According to GASS, cotton yields will average 761 pounds per acre, 16 percent less than last year’s record 902 pounds per acre average.