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Dry Summer Hurt Peanut Yield, Grade
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Low yields and difficult harvest conditions have most Southeast peanut growers ready to put 1999 behind them.
Mississippi and other peanut-producing states suffered a bad year as the heat and drought dropped peanut yields and grade well below state averages. Mississippi quota peanuts bring prices close to Alabama prices, which last year were about $550 a ton.
Steve Cummings, Yalobusha County agent with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said his part of the state harvested only about 2,000 pounds per acre.
"Normally we get about 3,000 pounds an acre, and last year we had almost two tons an acre," Cummings said. "The hot, dry weather decreased peanut yields, and the lack of moisture made the ground so hard they were difficult to dig."
Cummings said because of poor crops nationwide, Mississippi farmers shouldn't be left with unsold peanuts.
Peanut harvest started around the first of October and was complete in North Mississippi by the third week of October. Cummings said the lack of moisture hurt the peanuts more than the heat did.
"The plants never cooled down, so they required more moisture," Cummings said. "They just didn't get it this year with the drought we had."
Chappell Sides is a retired Coffeeville peanut farmer who now dries and processes peanuts for Yalobusha County's two remaining peanut farmers. Together these two farm about 400 acres of peanuts.
"It's been terrible this year," Sides said. "The dry weather just didn't make the peanuts. We were way off on our yield and the grade was way off as well."
Sides said peanuts bloom and send down a runner which should grow into the ground and produce peanuts. This year most just burned up when they touched the ground, he said.
"The peanut farmers probably broke even," Sides said. "Their yield comes through my driers and it was way off this year."
Peanut acreage across the state is down, and Cummings said much of what remains has moved to South Mississippi where seasons are often more favorable to peanut production.