Beasley adds, however, that some peanut producers are eyeing record yields.

Mitchell May, Decatur County Extension coordinator in southwest Georgia’s Decatur County, says his growers planted about 25,000 acres this year.

“Our peanuts are grown in a rotation with cotton and corn. I think yields will be very good this year, with approximately 70 percent of our crop irrigated.

“Based on what I’ve seen, some of our yields have been as high as 7,000 pounds per acre on irrigated and 4,500 pounds per acre on dryland. We have a good water resource in the Floridan aquifer, and if not for that, we’d be in bad shape,” says May.

“This year, we’ll have zero to record yields on peanuts, and the final average will depend on everything in the middle,” says Beasley.

In addition to longer periods of dry weather since 1990, Georgia producers also have seen white mold, which loves hot weather, he says. It takes only a small amount of moisture to trigger the disease, he says.

“We’ve also had a pretty severe outbreak of lesser cornstalk borer. It feeds on developing pegs and pods, and is more severe in hot, dry conditions. In the last few weeks, we’ve had severe problems with spider mites. This insect pest can destroy entire fields in just a short period of time. We’ve also seen fall armyworms and beet armyworms.”

In addition to dealing with a mix of insects and diseases, the herbicides growers usually use are less effective when it’s hot and dry, he says, and some growers have spent extra money controlling weeds.

The biggest thing now, says Beasley, is making timely harvesting decisions.

“Last year, we harvested right at 1 million tons. This year, we could be down to 700,000 tons. The latest numbers are showing that about 8 percent is harvested compared to 12 percent last year and 6 percent for the five-year average.

“As far as the condition of the crop, the latest report is showing 20-plus percent of Georgia’s peanut acreage in the very poor to poor range. On the other side of that range, about 40 percent is rated good to excellent.”

Even with irrigation, some growers are running 10 days to two weeks behind schedule, says Beasley.