Kreg Freeman insists there’s no secret to his style of growing peanuts — it’s just a matter of doing things right and doing them on time — but with 6,626 pounds per acre and the efficiency to match this past year, it’s obvious he’s hit on a successful formula.

“We try to do everything in a timely manner,” says Freeman, who farms in southwest Georgia’s Miller County. “The good Lord helped us out last year and everything fell into place. The main thing at the end of the season was staying on top of irrigation.”

Freeman’s high yields and efficient operation have earned him the honor of being the 2011 Farm Press Peanut Profitability Award winner for the Lower Southeast Region. He also was the 2010 State Winner for the Georgia Peanut Achievement Award.

One-hundred-degree temperatures were common last summer in south Georgia, and such extremes quickly dried out the sandy soils farmed by Freeman.

“At mid-season, when we were putting out Temik, the soil thermometer had gone up 6 degrees in one day, and that was how quickly the water was leaving us. But when it got to be harvest-time, we had almost perfect weather all the way through, with picking and digging. The last day we got through picking, it started raining late that afternoon, and it rained 1.5 to 2 inches. We just had a great year, with grades in the 75 to 76 range,” he says.

Freeman says one of his keys to efficiency and holding down costs is that he doesn’t spent a lot on labor, working with one full-time employee and his son, Nolan.

“We do a lot of the work ourselves, and most of our equipment is paid for. You can’t farm with junk, but we try to take care of our equipment and make it last as long as possible. We update as we go along, as we did with the twin-row equipment and the auto-steer, but I try to put back some money for things like that.”

It also helps to have good neighbors, he adds. “For more than 20 years, we’ve swapped out work with our neighbors. We help them pick peanuts and they help us. Rather than pick by the ton and swap money, we just swap out hours of labor, and it always evens out.”