by Daniel Leonard
As you’ve probably noticed, Calhoun County’s 2022 row crop harvest is in full swing. Generally beginning in the middle of September with the earliest planted peanuts and concluding at some point in late November or early December with the latest planted cotton, harvest season is the busiest, most stressful time of year for local farmers and the moment when a year’s hard work is realized – for better or worse.
Thankfully, this year’s harvest is looking very good. Growers couldn’t ask for much better weather to gather their crops and yields have been strong across the board in cotton, peanut, soybean, and corn. Based on informal grower surveys, I’m projecting the Calhoun County dryland cotton crop to average around 2 bales (1000 lbs) per acre – good but not great. However, the peanut crop looks like it might be one for the books. Where farmers were able to get out timely fertilizer and pesticide applications during the growing season, yields are looking excellent. Greater than 2 tons (4,000 lbs) per acre seems to be standard this year in dryland fields and I’ve heard reports of greater than 3 tons, even approaching 4 tons per acre on the best, irrigated ground.
We needed a year like this one because the past several harvests have been on the worse end of the spectrum and input costs are high. We all remember Hurricane Michael in October 2018. 2020 brought flooding from Hurricane Sally and cratering ag commodity prices from the pandemic-induced global shutdown. 2021 was one of the wettest years on record and yields suffered as a result. Finally, this year the weather cooperated for local growers; we escaped the adverse tropical weather and experienced normal rainfall. All hasn’t been sunny though. Every American has experienced the sting of inflation and farmers are no different. Costs of everything ranging from diesel fuel to pesticides to fertilizer and labor have skyrocketed. Fortunately, crop commodity prices have mostly increased along with these inputs, allowing producers to enjoy a rare combination of strong yields, good harvesting weather, and a reasonably good market to sell into.
As we finish up another harvest season here in Calhoun County, be sure to slow down when you meet a tractor or picker on the road and remember, were it not for ag producers of all kinds, we would have no shelter to live under, no food on the table, and no clothes on our backs.
Thank a local farmer today.