With summer coming to a close, Wiregrass peanut farmers are busy preparing for harvest after a week and a half of little rainfall.
Rome Ethredge of the UGA Seminole County, Georgia extension office says it’s been a “pretty good year” so far, but not as good as 2014. The current yield has taken a beating from the surplus of rain in the spring coupled with high heat over the summer.
85 percent of Seminole County’s farmland is irrigated, making it one of the highest irrigated counties in the Southeast. But the other 15 percent of dry land, still benefits from intermittent rainfall.
"We have some dry land fields that aren't going to do as well because we have so much dryness and heat."
But with harvest underway, the present dry spell is actually seen as a good thing.
"At harvest time, we like for it to be dry, but if we don't have the capability to irrigate a field, we need a few rains,” says Ethredge. “In a dry land situation, where the soil gets dry and hard, it can be difficult to dig them."
Weather extremes bring other nuisances as well. Farmers have had their hands full trying to combat molds and fungus in the crops.
"It's bad in peanuts when it's really hot. And when we have cloudy, rainy weather, it makes it worse.” Says Ethredge. “Farmers had to spend more money this year with fungicides to fight that disease."
So in an ideal world, what is a farmer's perfect forecast?
"We would like to see sunshine with a shower of rain every now and then just to keep the ground moist," says farmer Clent Mims of Donalsonville.
But it's a delicate balance.
"You don't want to be too wet, but you don't want to be too dry,” explains Ethredge. “We're very picky!"
Though no one has control over the weather, Mims insists there is a way the Wiregrass can help out:
"Eat more peanuts!"