Peanuts, cotton need sun to turn a profit

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Rain can be a blessing or a curse.

Just ask any farmer.

“There’s hardly ever a perfect situation for farmers,” said Jeff Knotts, FSA Pike County executive director. “It just seems like farmers either get too much rain or not enough.


Olivia Hughes, 4, looks for peanuts among the weeds that have over taken Robert Hughes’ peanut field on Springhill Road.

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“In recent years, we’ve had drought conditions and crops didn’t make much. However, even though we had drought conditions last year, it turned out to be a rather good year for cotton and peanuts. We got rain when it was needed, through pop-up showers, and the cotton and peanuts benefited. But, in the other years, drought conditions were devastating to farmers. Now this year, it’s the rain. Too much of it.”

Knotts said too much rain can do as much crop damage as too little rain.

“And, we’re seeing that this year,” he said. “Rain every day without sunshine is taking its toll on the peanuts and cotton. The corn is doing all right. It can take the water. From what I’ve seen, some of the corn looks good. And some of the rest can make a comeback but the peanuts and cotton are hurting from all this rain.”

Knotts said the peanuts could be the hardest hit.

“There’s a lot of standing water and peanuts don’t do good under water for several days,” he said. “That’s what’s happening in flooded, low-lying areas. Peanuts that were planted up hillside and in sandy soil will do better.”

Weeds thrive on too much rain and have become a real problem for peanut farmers.

“It’s too boggy to get in the fields and spray for weeds and weeds can take over the peanuts,” Knotts said. “The rain is preventing late planted crops so that’s another concern. Peanuts need dry weather and sunshine to keep on going.”

Cotton has a better chance but, if it continues to rain and the cotton continues to grow like weeds, the cotton crop could also be in dire straights, Knotts said.

“With this much rain, the cotton will get four to five feet tall,” he said. “When that happens, all of the cotton will be at the top of the plant. You’ll have more stalk than anything else and very little cotton.

“More rain and strong winds could do additional damage to fruit trees. With the ground soaked and loose, strong winds could blow the trees over, so that’s another concern.”

Knotts said the best thing that could happen for the crops is for the sun to shine and for any storm systems that develop to head out into the Atlantic.

If that happens, the crops will have a “fairly” good chance, Knotts said.

If not, as any farmer will say, “There’s always next year.”