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Rodney Dawson says in all his 42 years of farming, he's never gone into harvest season expecting as many peanuts as he is this year.

"I'm hoping I can get 4 to 5 thousand pounds per acre," he said.

He's Secretary on the Georgia Peanut Commission, and they're projecting 1,413,750 tons of peanuts would come out of Georgia soil this year. That'd be a record, especially compared to last year when Dawson says about 845,000 tons were produced.

"Overall the state, uh, we have been blessed with a good bit of rain compared to last year."

Last year, farmers planted the fewest acres of peanuts in 25 years.

"Cotton was real high last year, farmers planted a lot of cotton a lot less peanuts," Dawson said.

They got a good return for peanuts, since there was a low supply. This year farmers wanted to cash in again, so they planted 50 percent more acres of peanuts, and the crops are doing well.
It's a far cry from the last five years or so, when farmers battled drought.

"Anything that was not irrigated last year in our area was not harvested. It was zero. So that really hurt," said Dawson.

This year, Georgia farmers took precautions against the drought. Dawson says 60 percent more farmland is watered with irrigation systems.

A 1460-foot long center-pivot sprinkler, the kind often seen rolling up and down Georgia farmland, ran Dawson around $750,000-not including the well, pumps and pipes that go along with it.

"More farmers just need more stable income," he said, "so we have to invest in putting in more irrigation, because we can't depend on mother nature to provide the water when we need it."

The abundance of ripe, tasty peanuts could mean a bargain on grocery store shelves.

"I just heard the other day that JIF is planning on coming out with a promotion of 2 jars for $5. It's a lot better than last year when price of peanut butter rose up 30%," said Dawson.

Next year, Dawson says there'll probably be more corn and soy planting, and less peanuts, and prices would climb again.

"This roller coaster up and down is not good for the consumer," he said. "It's not good for the farmer, and it's not good for the consumer either."

He says it'll take the right mix of science and luck to get a little consistency.

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