Saturday, July 26, 2008

Critical Time for Crop

I remember that J. Frank McGill gave me a lot of good advice when I first came to the Peanut Commission.

He told me that the best crops had some level of weeds and white mold. What he was saying was a bit akin to what Dr. John Baldwin used to say, "if it don't rain it don't matter." We are in the critical stage needing rain pretty regular and frankly I wish the temperatures were just a few degrees cooler. The difference in 92 and 98 is noticeable. One positive is that the night time temperatures have cooled down enough and that is critical to let that plant rest.

Another thing that Mr. McGill told me was that it was foolish to predict a peanut crop on the 4th of July. Because of Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus we now plant about a month later so this crop is a long way from done.

One thing that is for certain is that this crop is the most expensive in history and peanuts is not alone in that respect. I was speaking to one farmer that said he has spent $400,000 more this year than he did up until this point last year. I know how he lives and don't think he had $400,000 profit to draw from so he is likely farming equity this year. Farmers are most lamenting the ills of cotton right now between resistant pig weed and high fertilizer prices, coupled with lower prices compared to other commodities.

If you don't believe it is tough being a farmer right now you ought to trade your day job for a year. I will not be surprised at all if this year doesn't put some farmers in to retirement or at least make them change occupations. Many of the younger ones with a college education have returned to bank jobs and teaching school.

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