Forest fire, lower peanut yield attributed to drought

Barwick

THOMASVILLE — Thomas County is suffering from not just one drought, but three of varying degrees.

A Thursday forest fire between Pavo and Coolidge is a result of the drought, said Sydni Barwick, Thomas County agriculture and natural resources extension agent.

The blaze destroyed 23 acres of woodlands, Barwick said, adding that the risk of fire is high countywide.

Barwick said the U.S. drought monitor shows north Thomas County is abnormally high in drought conditions, the central part moderately dry and the southwest corner of the county severely dry.

Thomas County and neighboring counties have received less than an inch of rain — if any — since late August.

"It's been difficult to finish off the peanut crops so we can dig it and pick it," Barwick said.

Some peanut-gathering equipment has been broken by the hard ground. Some peanut growers have been forced to harvest peanuts early because of the dry ground.

"They could have stayed in the ground and put on a little more weight. That's what hurts the farmers," Barwick said.

In Thomas County, peanuts are the second-biggest crop by land area. Cotton is the largest.

Once peanuts are harvested, a lot of rain is not desirable for cotton.

"That damages the quality of the lint," Barwick said.

Residential areas also are experiencing drought woes.

Barwick said it is important to water lawns between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. to prevent water from evaporating and to prevent wasting water. 

Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820 

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