Bulloch County farmers were blessed this year with good weather, and if the pattern holds, they could end up with bumper crops this harvest season.
Bulloch County Extension Agent Bill Tyson said farmers are gearing up to dig peanuts and pick cotton, weather permitting. It looks promising, as the National Weather Service predicts only a chance showers over the upcoming weekend and sunny weather for several days beyond.
Hurricane Irma didn’t cause extensive damage to crops, but the winds did twist and flatten cotton stalks in some areas, he said. This makes it difficult to pick.
Fortunately, the storm came before defoliant (a product that causes the plant to shed leaves) was applied, and the leaves protect the bolls, he said.
“We haven’t started picking yet, but cotton is looking good,” said Wade Hodges, who farms in the Middleground area of the county. “We had some lay down (due to the wind) but we’re hoping it is going to be OK.”
The acrid scent of cotton defoliant will be noticeable across the area over the next few weeks as the chemicals are applied to fields.
Tyson said most farmers will begin picking cotton next week. Hodges said he plans to start Monday.
The rains came at the right time, Tyson said. “The crop is looking good. We have had some good rains throughout the year. We hope once the bolls start opening, the cotton will stand back up.”
Some farmers have already begun picking peanuts. Wayne Mallard, whose family also farms the westside and Middleground area, said
“We are digging now, getting ready to pick, and the peanuts are looking pretty good.” His cotton was planted a little later and he hopes just a bit more rain will “finish it out” before picking.
Hurricane Irma was kind, only dumping “five to seven inches of rain” on Bulloch County, Tyson said. “It would have been better if we got two to three inches,” but overall, the peanut crop is looking promising as well.
“If we can get the crop to the buyers (without heavy rains or delays) it will be an excellent crop,” he said.
The hay crop fared well, too, with most farmers getting three cuttings. Some wet weather may have affected the quality of the hay, delaying baling, but for the most part the crop is pleasing, he said.
The corn harvest was good and “soybeans are looking good too,” he said.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.