Weather poses problems for crops

ALBANY -- Agricultural officials say recent wet weather conditions have put more stress on Southwest Georgia farmers who are trying to harvest peanut and cotton.

State Director for Georgia Agricultural Statistics Doug Kleweno said continued rain and cold may continue to be detrimental to farmers.

"We had a good week this past week," he said. "We were able to harvest 89 percent of peanuts last week which was up from 77 percent the prior week."

Kleweno said the cotton harvest was also up from the prior week, yielding 70 percent from 55 percent.

"Unfortunately we still have a lot of cotton to pick," he said. "We are showing 34 percent of the crop (has been harvested). We had nearly twice that amount last year at this time."

Kleweno said if wet conditions continue, quality and yield of peanut and cotton crops will suffer.

"They (farmers) are still running behind," he said. "We really need the dry weather to finish up."

Georgia Peanut Commission Executive Director Don Koehler said most peanut farmers have already dug their peanuts.

"The rain tends to pack peanuts down in the ground," he said. "That means that farmers will have to go over them again and fluff them up."

Koehler said continued rain and cold temperatures could push the peanut harvest and planting back as much as a week.

"(Continued rain) will cost us some yield," he said. "It's been a challenge. This hasn't' been a fortunate turn of events (for farmers)."

Koehler said although peanut farmers are taking a blow, cotton is by far the crop that is hurting the most.

"We didn't need this on cotton," he said. "We're not by ourselves in this."

Koehler said if the rain clears up farmers still need warm and dry conditions till the end of November to have a successful crop.

Richey Seaton, executive director for the Georgia Cotton Commission, said despite the setbacks, there is still potential for a good harvest.

He said cotton farmers fear high winds.

"Rain coupled with high winds will amount to less yield," said Seaton.

He said cotton farmers are currently 25 percent behind their yearly average.

"We need a good amount of sunshine," said Seaton.

Meteorologist Mike Jamski of the National Weather Service said clear skies will be in the forecast by the end of the week.

"We will probably see the rain tapering off today and completely gone by Friday," he said. "Temperatures will be around 60 degrees and the wind will be gusting at about 15 - 25 mph."