Patience and a little well-timed sunshine can do a lot to bring good times back to some Deep South crops that spent more time under cloudy, stormy skies this summer than they did under bright-blue ones.
Sunny weather can do a lot to ease the troubled spirits of farmers, too, who spent way too much time under cloudy, stormy skies this summer than they did under bright-blue ones.
Last week, I traveled on the Georgia Peanut Tour, which is the annual jaunt across the hub of big time peanut production in the South. The tour was based in Valdosta, Ga., near the Florida-Georgia line (the actual boundary line and not the recently invented country music duo I just heard on the radio).
Two week ago, this region was sitting on ready and waiting on go to get peanuts dug to see what was under the ground, a ground that has had record rainfall that left many peanut fields looking more like good places to throw up duck blinds and fling out some decoys instead of running a tractor through them. (I did this summer see geese floating around in a cotton field in north Florida right off the interstate.)
Disease is out there. Tomato spotted wilt virus is easily seen from the dirt roads looking over some fields. Up close you can see the stunted aftermath of the disease splotched throughout. Smart people say it’s the worst TSWV year in more than a decade, and I believe them.
And some insect damage is noticeable. Weeds stand pretty proud in others. Saw some tough fields, no doubt, ones that farmers just couldn’t get into on time.
How about good peanut yields? Yeah, saw plenty of them, too. I think now of the smile on John Burton’s face and his ease of mind when he was digging his Ga-06Gs in Brooks County, Ga., one stop on the peanut tour. Solid good peanuts easily going more than 5,000 pounds per acre rolled throughout the field.
And I’m here to tell you that newly turned 5,000-plus-pound-per-acre peanuts still fluffy sitting on top of the ground is just danged pretty. Smells good too, especially when the sun starts to set over them and a cool evening breeze delivers that earthy scent to you. The aroma’s both fresh and traditional and strangely comforting.
In the last week, peanut fields have flipped their flop in Georgia, going from snug underground to taking a good sunbath. And it seems like just overnight, boom, there they are. So move the innocent and the slow out of the way. It’s game on. It’s peanut digging time and it’s about time, too.