When it rains it pours, and when it doesn’t……well it just gets really dry. Following a less than pleasant summer growing season, mother nature continues to add insult to injury. September is prime time for peanut harvest in North Florida, and some farmers are saying we are doing a better job of peanut “planting.” They say this because the peanuts dug on September 1 were rained on 13 days straight after digging, and by the time they finally went on the truck, we are pretty confident that 1000 lbs or more had fallen off the vines. At this time farmers are struggling to get fields sprayed with fungicides and late leaf spot is on a tear locally with the plant canopy having excessive wetness day after day. Plant pathologists recommend we spray peanuts which will not be harvested in the next 14 days when disease conditions are prevalent and environmental conditions are good for disease pressure. However that has been easier said than done. Daily rainfall has been the biggest factor, but some fields are too muddy to hold up equipment, and others we will harvest ASAP. However, we don’t know when that will be considering the 10 day forecast.
I snapped a photo at the Terry Farm in Columbia County where they are using a vine conditioner to remove excess soil from the peanut roots. Many of our peanuts are being dug in “too-wet” conditions because optimum conditions just aren’t happening. This is followed by heavy rain and it takes much longer to get the peanuts into harvestable dry conditions. The vine conditioner knocks some of the wet soil from the roots and pulls the leaves off the ground that have been beat into the soil by several inches of rain. Hopefully this will allow us a few extra hours of picking and maybe better vine conditions for that little window of sunlight we hope to see on Thursday 9/18. What do I mean by adding insult to injury? The injury was receiving 12.9″ of rain from May 16 through August 25. This was barely enough to eek out a crop in most dryland fields. The insult is that we have received 12.5″ from August 30 to Sept 17th. So we have had as much in 18 days as we had in the previous 100, which was when we needed/wanted it. If it were easy, everybody would do it.