To kick off the 31st annual Georgia Peanut Tour attendees were able to learn more about the peanut crop and food safety during the Hot Topics Seminar Tuesday afternoon. During the seminar Scott Monfort, University of Georgia peanut agronomist, provided an update on the 2017 peanut crop. According to Monfort this is the third year that Georgia has had more than 700,000 acres planted to peanuts. For the 2017 crop, 828,000 acres were planted with a predicted yield of 4,600 lbs. per acre. However, the weather and other complications could have an impact on the final production for the year. The year 2017 did bring the longest planting season on record going from March 27 to July 5, according to Monfort. However, some farmers did have poor stands due to weather and poor vigor of the crop, chemical injury, aspergillus crown rot, aspergillus flavus, nematode damage as well as damage from hogs and simple grower mistakes. Then recently farmers had to deal with Hurricane Irma. However, many farmers were able to pick their peanuts before the hurricane hit or the peanuts were still in the ground. However, farmers who also grow cotton or pecans had damage to those crops. Overall, Monfort says irrigated yields and quality so far have been above average. Some of the non-irrigated yields were impacted by the dry weather in August. However, time will only tell in the final outcome of the 2017 Georgia peanut crop.
In addition to the crop update, Stanley Fletcher, director of the National Center for Peanut Competitiveness, provided an update on the farm bill discussions. According to Fletcher, many of the farm bill mark-ups will take place this fall and may be considered in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate at that time. However, it is too soon to know when the final bill will pass Congress. Fletcher also provided an update on the Representative Peanut Farms. The 22 farms across the U.S. provide Fletcher with information on the operating costs and other expenses on the farm. This data helps Fletcher provide an economic analysis on what will work or not work for peanut farmers across the U.S. in the farm bill.