Being the editor of The Peanut Grower magazine is more than a job for me. In fact, this year marks 20 years. At the American Research and Education Society Meeting in July, I had an occasion to count up all my years in the peanut industry, which I figure to be close to 25. In other words, I’ve been around a while.
The industry has had some really good times and we’ve had our share of heartaches. Farm Bills in the ’90s were continuous.
Then there was the change from the quota system that ended a lot of friendships. The salmonella contamination and peanut butter recall was not fun to go through either. But all of that pales in comparison to the last month and a half.
Hurricane Michael has devastated so many people and so much of our peanut infrastructure that it’s hard to believe. A lot of the crop was picked in Florida, but Georgia was only about 50 percent harvested. The remaining 50 percent was or still is a big question mark.
“It’s really too early to tell the exact loss the peanut industry may face,” says Scott Monfort, University of Georgia Extension agronomist. “There are a lot of factors in play to determine the estimated loss due to delayed harvest in areas where farmers can’t get into the field or issues with infrastructure at peanut buying points where peanuts can’t be dried or graded without power.”
The Georgia Peanut Commission (GPC) was working with federal and state officials to assess the state of Georgia’s crop post-storm and to determine the best way forward.
In late October, Tim Burch of Baker County, Georgia, and GPC director from district one, had only been able to harvest about 100 of his 600 acres of peanuts. “This year’s near-perfect crop has been nearly destroyed. We need fair weather for a month so we can get in the remainder of the peanut crop.”
Wesley Powell, owner of Dollar Brothers, Inc. in Decatur County, Georgia, says, “In my 30 years of operating Dollar Brothers, this is by far the worst I’ve ever seen and the only insurance claim I have filed in 30 years. We had extensive damage to the peanut drying facility and peanut warehouse.”
Twisted metal, no power and even some molded peanuts are temporary conditions that will change in time. The peanut industry is a resilient one, and we will come back from this as we have all the other bad times.