"PEANUT PRODUCERS EXPECT NORMAL CROP YEAR, SOME HIGH YIELDS"
For the first time in several years, most peanut producers in Alabama are expecting a normal crop. That's according to Dallas Hartzog, a peanut agronomist with the Alabama Cooperaitve Extension System, who said this season has been almost a complete opposite of last summer.
"We've really had a different kind of peanut season this year," Hartzog said. "We have had no days above 100 here at Headland, and during most of the growing season, there has been reasonable amounts of rain."
Richard Petcher, Coffee County Extension agent, calls this year's crop the best he has seen in the 13 years he has worked in Coffee County.
"Some farmers may be looking at yields of 2,700 pounds per acre or maybe even a little higher," said Petcher. "Farmers have a good crop. Now they need some sunny days to get their peanuts dug."
Geneva County Extension Coordinator Mary Baltikauski said most fields in her area have yielded 2,100 to 2,600 pounds per acre, but added that some fields recorded yields over 3,000 pounds per acre.
The Alabama Agricultural Statistics Service is estimating a state average yield of 2,400 pounds per acre. That would be the best yield statewide in almost 10 years. In 1992, the average yield was just over 2,500 pounds per acre.
Hartzog says this year also has meant more work for the farmer and more money spent on the crop.
"The damp, humid weather we had led to more disease problems," Hartzog said. "They have had to spend more money on fungicide sprays and more time in the fields applying the sprays. But really, that's all part of farming. To make a crop, you have got to do certain things to keep the plants healthy."
Hartzog estimates that peanut farmers have about $600 per acre invested in inputs such as seed, fertilizer, fuel and fungicides.
""That figure doesn't take into account the farmer's time or his land costs,"" says Hartzog. ""Farmers need a combination of a good harvest and good prices to pay bills and hopefully, make a profit.""