Disease and damage to two of Georgia’s biggest fall crops – peanuts and cotton – came as no surprise to the state’s farming industry. When heavy rain kept falling this summer, they expected to pay the price.
Just how bad the damage is and how that will affect commodity prices is still uncertain. Weekly crop reports that detail commodity prices from the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been unavailable to farmers during the government shutdown. There are still a few more weeks of growing before many crops are harvested.
This summer, above normal rainfall fell across much of the state. The Columbus area had the wettest summer on record, Macon the second wettest and Atlanta the fourth. Augusta had its wettest June on record.
Don Shurley, a cotton economist for the University of Georgia, said summer rains hurt cotton but he doesn’t expect the damage to be significant enough to increase prices, which have remained fairly steady all year.
“There’s no reason for retail prices to change with regard to the price of cotton,” Shurley said.
Georgia is the second-largest producer of cotton, behind Texas.
The most recent crop report Shurley received, in September, estimated the state average for cotton production at 899 pounds per acre, down from 944 pounds in the August estimate. Falling yield estimates indicate some cotton was damaged, he said.
Peanut prices are likely to be higher this year, said Burke County extension coordinator Peyton Sapp. Consumers will see that jump reflected in the price of peanut butter, he said.
“We have 42 percent fewer acres planted of peanuts this year than in previous years,” he said.
In 2012, Georgia produced about 50 percent of the nation’s peanuts. Burke County is the sixth-largest producing county in Georgia.
Pecans, another big Georgia crop, could also be hurt by the summer rain. Burke County pecan farmer Henry Hopkins said he got too much rain in the summer and not enough during the first two weeks of September.
Hopkins wanted to wait until he harvests the crop in November to talk prices, but the Georgia Department of Agriculture expects pecan prices to be up this year.
“The deals will not be quite as good as last year for pecans,” said department spokeswoman Mary Kathryn Yearta.