Tift County, GA (WALB) - South Georgia's peanut harvest is in high gear now as growers dig what is being called an "historic crop."
Experts say it will likely be the largest peanut crop in Georgia history.
That's good news for a struggling economy.
Philip Grimes has been growing peanuts for about 50 years, and admits this may be his best.
Grimes says, "I believe it's going to be one of the best peanut yields we've ever had."
As his tractors dig 650 acres at Docia Farms, Grimes estimates so far he could have yields of more than 6500 pounds per acre.
"Good tap root crop. Which is close to the root itself. Good heavy, high yielding peanuts. And we are proud of them," Grimes explains.
Georgia growers planted 725,000 acres of peanuts this year, to take advantage of a tight market promising good prices. Experts say this bumper crop could shatter the 2009 state record, with a potential of averaging 4000 pounds per acre.
UGA Extension Peanut Agronomist, Dr. John Beasley says, "Never been thought of before. In fact we would break a record set just 3 years ago in '09 when the state average yield record was 3560 pounds per acre. And now we are talking about 400 to 500 pounds more than that."
The crop is so big it's causing problems. Not enough combines, trucks, trailers, dryers or warehouses to handle all the nuts. Buying points are backed up. Good news for south Georgia's economy.
Tift County Extension Agent, Brian Tankersley says, "Right now we've got people who have purchased semi-haulers and dryers. We've added trailers and that stimulates an economy from being able to build that equipment. We have more people moving peanuts, so that's more fuel costs."
Growers who signed contracts early this season should get the best price for their crop, because with the huge crop prices have dropped dramatically. Some growers could need those big yields to make a profit. But now as they harvest it's a proud time for farmers.
The weather conditions this year have been ideal for peanuts. Experts say they are amazed by early reports of even non-irrigated peanuts producing 4,000 to 5,000 pounds per acre. In recent years they produced next to nothing because of drought.
Brian Tankersley said this record peanut crop could push the estimated agriculture impact, just on Tift County's economy this year to $400 million.
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