Farmers have much to be thankful for during the upcoming Thanksgiving season. Nearly every crop planted back in the spring is projected to bring a bountiful harvest. Three of the area’s largest crops are cotton, soybeans and peanuts.
“After last year’s small crop, we saw peanut butter prices on average rise 30 percent or more,” said Patrick Archer, the president of the American Peanut Council. “With this year’s excellent crop, the supply and demand should come back into balance, while peanut butter prices should come back to a more normal level.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has projected more than 3 million tons of peanuts to be harvested in 2012, a 66 percent increase over last year. Early spring rains, irrigation and the control of pests have been key elements in an abundant crop for farmers.
David Rushing and Dina Diefenbach of Birdsong’s Ogeechee Buying Point for peanuts report twice as many peanuts purchased this year compared to 2011. They also report that the nuts are excellent in quality.
Birdsong, in Brooklet, covers Screven, Burke, Emmanuel, Effingham, Jenkins and Bulloch counties, as well as part of South Carolina.
“We’re seeing 2 tons per acre this year,” Diefenbach said. “I predict that we’ll bring in between 9,000–9,500 tons when finished.”
Diefenbach said half of those delivering nuts contracted them out between $600 and $750 per ton, while others opted for the loan program and received around $355 per ton.
“As of today,” she said, “we have processed 8,600 tons of peanuts, so we’re getting close to the end.”
Andy Hart, the gin manager at Bulloch Gin Co. in Brooklet, said this year saw a high-quality cotton crop.
“This year is the best dry land cotton I’ve seen produced in my lifetime,” he said. “I think we’re down in cotton production this year by about 15 percent, but the volume and quality will be higher.”
Hart said the December futures on cotton are 70 cents per pound, compared to 93 cents per pound last year
Chuck Ellis of Statesboro Grain said soybeans for November are $15 per bushel if contracted in advance. Yields have been between 60 and 70 bushels per acre with an average of 35. Last year, soybeans produced around 10–15 bushels per acre.
“Wheat and corn has also exceeded expectations this year,” Ellis said, “and I think you will see farmers planting more corn this coming season across the state.”
Even the pecan crop this year is rebounding from last year, thanks to favorable rainfall during the growing season.
“What was projected to be an off-year for pecans in Georgia has turned out to be very good in terms of production,” said Duke Lane Jr., the chairman of the Georgia Pecan Commission.
Jim Wallace, who regularly covers farm issues for WALB-TV in Albany, added: “Georgia’s cotton crop this year is predicted to be one of the best seasons ever. Some farmers are averaging around 1,400 pounds an acre, which is tremendous when comparing that to last year’s crop.”
In March 2011, cotton prices were around $2.30 a pound but now are projected to bring around 75 cents a pound this year. While the price is lower, most farmers will agree it is reasonable, all things considered, and the future of farming in Bulloch County looks good.