Rain Stunts Crop

Plants are not developing properly in waterlogged soils.

rainy georgia peanuts

Georgia’s peanut and cotton acreage remains in flux due to the inclement weather — photo courtesy University of Georgia

Two consecutive weeks of rainfall in Georgia stunted the growth of the state’s peanut crop and has left farmers scrambling to decide what to do next.

Georgia’s peanut and cotton acreage remains in flux due to the inclement weather. According to the Georgia Crop Progress and Condition Report, issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service, 73 percent of this year’s peanut crop has been planted. Some of the crop will likely need to be replanted because of saturated field conditions.

Weeks Behind
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension peanut agronomist Scott Monfort says the steady rainfall stalled the growth of peanut plants across Georgia. Fields are waterlogged from the abnormal amount of rainfall, and the plants are not pulling any essential nutrients from the soil.

“I’ve been in quite a few fields where everything looks like it’s several weeks behind. Peanuts that were planted a month ago look like they were planted a week ago. They’re just not growing,” Monfort says.

UGA Extension crop experts believe the upward swing of cotton prices that started at the beginning of this year may entice row crop farmers to switch some peanut acreage to cotton when farmers can get back into their fields and planting resumes.

Switch To Cotton?
Cotton cash prices are currently 88 cents per pound, the highest reported average since 2014, according to UGA Extension cotton economist Yangxuan Liu. While this is encouraging news for cotton producers, it presents a predicament for peanut growers, like Bill Brim, who haven’t planted their entire crop.

“We’ve got to make a decision on whether we’re going to continue to try to hold out and plant more peanuts or plant cotton.

Cotton is close to breaking 90 cents, so it’s looking better and better to plant cotton than it is (to plant) peanuts,” says Brim, owner and CEO of Lewis Taylor Farms in Tifton, Georgia. The company runs Quality Produce, a plasticulture and ground vegetable production operation that covers more than 6,500 acres.

Days Of Sunshine Needed
Only 65 percent of Georgia’s cotton acreage has been planted, according to the same Georgia crop progress report. UGA Extension cotton agronomist Jared Whitaker said that it’s risky for Georgia farmers to plant cotton in June, but they do it every year.

“It’s a good opportunity. We have cotton close to 90 cents to rely on. It’s good, assuming we can get the crop in if it ever stops raining,” Whitaker said.

According to weather.uga.edu, Moultrie, Georgia, received 6.19 inches of rain from May 14 through May 28. Over the same time period, Tifton received 4.32 inches with 13 rainy days, and Albany, Georgia, received 6.23 inches with 14 rainy days.

Rainfall is predicted to continue. Even then, farmers need several days of sunshine before they will be able to get in their fields, assess the situation, and determine whether it’s economically feasible to plant more peanuts and expect good yields.

“The next two weeks are going to change some people’s thinking. We’re not going to be able to get back in the field for at least a week,” Monfort said. “If we could get (the peanuts) in the ground now, we could keep moving along. But that’s not the way it’s working out.”

Article by Clint Thompson, University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.