We finished up the interview and had a thought: Let’s make a bet. So, we did.
Scott Monfort is the University of Georgia Extension peanut agronomist. We were standing in a peanut field at the UGA Midville Research and Education Center Sept. 20 as the rest of the participants of the 32nd annual Georgia Peanut Tour gathered for lunch on the other side of the farm. The heat index was near 100, and it hadn’t rained in about three weeks.
The peanut tour draws people interested in learning about and seeing Georgia’s peanut industry in action as harvest time starts, and this year’s tour drew folks from as far as South Africa and Malawi and across the United States.
The tour was based in Savannah this year and explored the eastern-most edge of Georgia’s peanut belt. The tour rotates each year to spotlight the state’s different peanut regions, which run from the southwest corner through the central-southern plain and to the coast.
The tour started the week after Hurricane Florence brought historic rain and flooding to the Carolinas, and thoughts and prayers were headed up that way throughout the tour, along with the exchange of information about friends, family or colleagues affected by the storm.
Florence’s brutal strike reminded us about something we don’t forget in the Southeast: a season’s worth of work (a lifetime of work) can be ravaged by tropical weather in an instant, and all the preparation in the world can’t stop it.
Rain was a big factor for much of southwest Georgia, Monfort said, where some locations received 50 to 60 inches of rain, or, in other words, received the average typical annual rainfall in just six months, and this pretty much split the crop into two this year: early planted and late planted.
As much as a third of the crop was planted in June due to excessive rain, and that’s unusual. The early crop was coming in strong on yields and quality.
Monfort said he was game for a bet. He said Georgia’s average yield this year will be about 3,900 pounds per acre; no record-breaker, but not bad, either. I said it’d go higher. The bet: The loser buys the winner a Chick-fil-a sandwich. High stakes, and I gotta say the odds are in his favor. The official word on yields will come out early next year.
Good luck. Take care, and thanks for reading.