The final day of the Georgia Peanut Tour began at one of Bulloch County’s largest farming operations, the farm of Charley and Lee Cromley. The Cromley brothers are fifth generation farmers who grow approximately 2,600 acres of row crops. This year, 1,800 acres were planted in cotton and 800 acres were planted in peanuts. When discussing the current crop, Lee said their biggest challenges this year have been weed and disease control. The large amount of rainfall during the growing season has made it difficult to get tractors in the field to manage these two pests.
The Cromley brothers’ production practices include a good rotation of cotton and peanuts, application of Elatus for leaf spot control, Valor and Cadre for weed control, and practicing strip tillage. Strip tillage allows them to turn the dirt less, which keeps necessary nutrients and moisture in the soil for the crop. They also plant a cover crop and leave the previous year’s cotton stubble in the ground prior to planting peanuts each year.
Harvest season has commenced, so while at their farm, tour attendees got to see peanuts being dug. Here, the tractor pulls an implement called a peanut digger. This machine digs the peanuts, shakes the dirt off and inverts them upside down so the peanuts are exposed to the sun and the vines are on the ground. Lee said they can dig approximately 60 acres per day with two machines going. After they are dug, the peanuts are left on the ground to dry for approximately three days and then later harvested with a combine, which is a machine that “picks” the peanuts off the vine. Last year, the Cromley brothers harvested approximately 5,000 lbs/acre on their peanut crop. This year, they are expecting to harvest around 4,000 lbs/acre.
During the visit, Lee also pointed all the importance of peanuts to the economy; especially rural South Georgia. Agriculture makes up 10 percent of Bulloch County’s budget according to Bill Tyson, Bulloch County Extension agent. Peanuts are Georgia’s official state crop and generate approximately $2.2 billion annually to the state’s economy. They are grown in nearly half of Georgia’s counties where they account for nearly 50 percent of the peanuts grown in the United States.
According to Tyson, the 2018 peanut crop is looking good in his area of the state. The Bulloch County area started off the season wet, with a slow start, followed by cooler temperatures in May. Due to the changes in the weather pattern, much of the crop is spread out in regard to planting dates. Like many other areas, the abundant rainfall has created more disease issues than normal, as well. The farmers in the county grow approximately 75,000 acres of peanuts and cotton; however, they also grow corn, soybeans and small grain. Most of the land in Bulloch County is dryland with approximately 25 percent irrigated.