While some crops like pecans and cotton suffered serious losses from Hurricane Irma, the additional rainfall actually brought benefits to many Georgia peanut growers.
Tim Brenneman, a professor of plant pathology at the University of Georgia, says the 4 to 6 inches of rainfall received from Hurricane Irma were particularly beneficial to the later-planted dryland peanuts that were starting to be hindered by the drought.
Brenneman says the rainfall helped the late crop in terms of yield as well as avoiding problems associated with dry conditions such as spider mites and aflatoxin, which can result in greatly reduced peanut prices.
According to Brenneman, the rainfall even helped the crops fight off certain diseases. White mold, a soil-borne disease that affects peanut crops, is difficult to eradicate due to the issue of getting the fungicide from the leaves into the soil. The rainfall helped push the fungicide from the plant into the soil and pod zone, helping to lower the levels of white mold.
The storm was not all positive, however, as some plants that were supposed to be harvested during the rainfall had to be left in the field due to the weather. This did cause a loss in yield for some growers, especially if the peanuts were over-mature or had a lot of disease issues. However, Brenneman says many growers could plan for this since they had notice of the storm’s arrival. Overall, for much of the peanut crops in Georgia, he says the benefits of the rainfall outweighed the damages.
Brenneman says prior to Hurricane Irma, the regular rainfall Georgia experienced this summer was beneficial to producing a very good crop of peanuts.
There are some issues with leaf spot that are typical for this time of year, but Georgia’s peanut crops are ready to be harvested. Brenneman says clear weather is needed to facilitate harvest and get the crop out of the field. He hopes the remaining hurricane season will allow Georgia growers to get back to business.
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