Many farmers don’t know what to do with themselves this year.
Severe droughts devastated a lot for their yields last year. But with the help of Mother Nature, that’s not the case this year.
Rain, which has fell over the area abundantly this year has helped farmers out tremendously as they look to start harvesting the county’s two biggest crops: peanuts and cotton.
“They (yields) are looking really good,” said Mike Donahoe, the director at the Santa Rosa County Extension Office.
Donahoe talks to farmers around the area and surveys fields to see how their crops are doing.
This year, he thinks farmers are way better off.
“They’ve just started harvesting peanut. I haven’t heard of any yields yet,” Donahoe said. “But they are looking really good, like a good peanut crop this year.”
Santa Rosa County is number two in the state for producing cotton and peanuts based on acreage. The only county above Santa Rosa is Jackson County.
Donahoe said that, unlike last year, cotton and peanut prices are down. Cotton was a cash crop last year because of the amount that was lost in the droughts across the south.
Because of all the rain, cotton prices have plummeted.
But rain can sometimes be a bad thing, Donahoe said.
“The only thing is we are seeing is plant disease with all the rain, like white mold in peanuts,” Donahoe said. “It’s just a result of all the rain.”
“But it’s a lot better than having the drought.”
Donahoe said little problems like stink bugs and caterpillars are tackling some fields, but the bugs are not out of the ordinary.
“We’ve had to treat for stink bugs in cotton and plant bugs,” Donahoe said. “In peanuts, some fields had to be treated for caterpillars, but nothing really severe.”
Donahoe said farmers started harvesting peanuts this week, and will continue throughout the month of September and beginning of October.
Donahoe said after observing crops last year, he estimates the area lost about 40 percent of its cotton yields to the drought and an additional five percent to pests.
Last year, dry weather forced farmers to plant crops later in the season, delaying harvest time. Around harvest time, cold fronts moved into the area last year forcing local farmers to harvest early.
This year, many farmers planted early, and started harvesting their crops last week, according to the Extension Office director.
Donahoe said that cotton usually does better in dry weather, unlike peanuts because of how deep its seed is planted in the soil.
“There is going to be a huge dip in peanut prices…but we are having really good harvesting weather right now,” Donahoe said. “Hopefully we will have a much better year.”