Georgia peanuts infrastructure significantly impacted by Hurricane Michael
By Clint Thompson for CAES News
Georgia peanut farmers, still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Michael on October 10-11, are facing uncertainty about when and where to unload their crop after harvest.
The hurricane dealt a devastating blow to local buying points and peanut shellers in parts of south Georgia, said University of Georgia Cooperative Extension peanut agronomist Scott Monfort. Hurricane Michael’s path crossed the southwestern part of the state, through Bainbridge, Donalsonville, Camilla, Albany and Cordele, Georgia, and impacted a significant portion of Georgia’s peanut-producing community. The loss to Georgia’s peanut crop is estimated to be between $10 and $20 million.
Decatur County, which was among the first counties in Georgia to be impacted by the storm and one of the hardest hit, had a farm gate value of $23.9 million in peanuts in 2016, according to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. Seminole County, where significant storm damage was reported, had a farm gate value of $15.9 million for peanuts in 2016.
According to Monfort, peanut harvest has slowed considerably following last week’s storm.
“In the western part of the state, there has been significant damage to drying shelters and elevators that will slow the harvest down. Ultimately, growers may have to field-dry peanuts until repairs are made,” Monfort said. “The loss of elevators could also cause a backlog of trailers for farmers who are trying to drop off their crop. This will again slow down harvest at a time when producers are trying to get their peanuts out of the field.”
Georgia peanuts farmers produced 628,000 acres this year, down from 714,168 in 2017. Monfort estimates that 40 to 45 percent of the peanut crop is still in the field. The growers’ biggest concern is getting their remaining crop out of the field without losing too much in weight and quality.
“The storm did not directly affect too many acres of peanuts. Indirectly, the storm pushed back harvest causing some loss due to over-maturity,” Monfort said. “We also had some yield loss due to elevated disease issues where growers could not spray or dig peanuts due to the storm. We may not understand the total impact for a few weeks.”
For more information or to receive up-to-date information about Georgia’s peanuts, see http://peanuts.caes.uga.edu.
(Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.)