Dry Conditions Leave Peanut And Cotton Crops In Poor Conditions

Oct 1, 2019

It’s been a little more than a week since the first day of fall, but the conditions have done anything but. The record heat coupled with lack of rain across the state has left many parts in severe drought and abnormally dry conditions.

That’s made it hard for farmers to get crops, like peanuts, out of the ground. Over the last week of September, parts of Georgia saw anywhere from zero to less than 2 inches of rain. 

That’s according to the latest Georgia Crop Progress and Condition Report released by the United States Department of Agriculture.

The report said nearly 15% of the state's peanut and cotton crop was in poor or very poor condition. As farmers go to pull it, the dry ground causes the plant to break off and the nuts get stuck in the ground.

Ty Torrance, with the University of Georgia extension services in Grady County, said farmers shouldn’t give up on planting peanuts and cotton.

"We've had some rough past couple of years no doubt with weather difficulty,” Torrance said, referring to drought conditions and Hurricane Michael. “But as a whole, we can still do well with those crops."

He said crops like peanuts are farmers' bread and butter but they’re always keeping an eye out for other things to plant in case large crop yields are lost.

The effect the conditions are having on farmers is also felt by Jeff Cook, a UGA extension agent in Taylor County.

“Nearly all peanut and cotton harvesting stopped due to the dry conditions,” Cook said in the USDA report. “Cattle are being sold or fed hay. Pines and oaks are suffering, with many looking dead or severely stressed from the lack of rainfall.”

Torrance said the dry conditions have also affected farmers' ability to plant things like oats and wheat for winter grazing for cattle. In turn, they’ve had to shift to hay and other more expensive approaches.