With clear skies, peanut harvest gets underway in southwest Georgia

When it comes to the southwest Georgia peanut harvest, the proof is in the pudding - or more accurately, in the rows of goobers being plowed up in fields across the region.

The tasty legumes are big business in Georgia, with the top 10 counties for peanuts in the Albany vicinity, including the top two in 2020, Mitchell and Worth, as well as Baker, Colquitt, Decatur, Early and Miller counties.

“So far, so good,” Baker County grower Shane Kelly said. “It’s going along pretty good.”

After weeks of wet weather, the harvest has just gotten underway, and tractors have finally begun turning up peanuts in the region.

Kelly said his operation did not have as much rain, which was also the case in nearby counties. In other locales, wet weather has been a factor. Heavy rainfall caused the postponement of the annual Field Day at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie in July. Frequent, heavy rains have been the norm for much of the region.

“If we can get them picked, I think we’ll have a pretty good crop,” Kelly said. “They look good.”

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The value of peanuts for the top 10 counties, which is rounded out by Berrien, Irwin and Seminole counties in addition to the seven listed above, was $17.5 million, according to the University of Georgia’s 2020 Farm Gate Value report.

Georgia is the top producer in the nation of broiler chickens, pecans and peanuts, and row and forage crops added $12.9 billion to the state’s economy in 2020.

With the harvesting season just getting into swing, it may be a few weeks before an accurate assessment may be made for peanuts, said Jeremy Kichler, a farm extension agent in Colquitt County.

Kickler and his counterparts have been holding clinics for the past few weeks and making recommendations on the best time to start picking.

“People started digging,” he said. “I’ve heard we’ve had some decent grades so far. Dry weather is going to be in for the next week or 10 days.”

One of the questions is how the weather will affect yield and quality.

“We’ve had some decent weather extremes this year,” Kichler said. “We had the heat and then rainy spells in August and September. We won’t know how that will impact yield until we put the pickers in the fields. The verdict is out.”

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Credit: Albany Herald

Credit: Albany Herald

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