Chickens, cotton & peanuts, Oh my!

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 10, 2010

Covington County farmers haven’t put all of their eggs in one basket, as was demonstrated in the annual Farm Tour Thursday, which included tours of peanut, cotton and poultry farms.

They are still “working for peanuts” and hope to end the season “in high cotton.”

Tommy Thompson stands in the middle of one of his poultry houses. Thompson was among the hosts for yesterday's farm day events.

Russell Wiggins, president of the Covington County Farmers Federation, said the organization holds the event yearly.

“It’s a communication effort with local farmers and industry people to help improve our farms and crops,” he said. “The industry changes rapidly and there are different varieties of crops and herbicides, and with the tour it allows the farmers to see what’s available to them.”

Wiggins said this is about the 10th year the organization has held it.

The group toured several peanut and cotton fields; saw a demonstration on the newest technology in GPS navigation for spraying fields; and toured a poultry farm.

Chris Baldwin, an Auburn University representative, spoke to farmers about the different types of peanuts in Wiggins’ field.

Baldwin said that the Georgia 0-6 Gs out-yield the Georgia Greeners, both of which Wiggins had planted.

Down the road, farmers visited Tommy Thompson’s peanut field and Baldwin spoke about how Thompson used twin rows to get more canopy closure, which in turn usually increases the yield by 10 percent.

Baldwin told farmers that the farmers in East Alabama had begun harvesting peanuts and they have had a tough start.

“They are grading in the upper 60s and lower 70s,” he said.

Throughout the state, about 190,000 acres of peanuts have been planted, which is up from 157,000 last year, Baldwin said.

“We’re looking at a low yield compared to last four years,” he said.

While at Thompson’s peanut field, the farmers were treated to a demonstration in the latest technology in GPS navigation for spraying fields, which has a 90-foot boom and 4 to 5 inch accuracy.

Farmers got their first taste of cotton of the day at Joey Holt’s field, where Auburn representative William Birdsong said he had “a good looking field of cotton.”

Birdsong spoke to farmers about some leaf diseases on the plant, saying there are many different types of diseases.

Birdsong also showed farmers a cotton boll that was hit by a stinkbug.

“Stink bugs can be devastating to cotton farms,” he said.

Farmers also toured a chicken house at Thompson’s poultry farm, which had 13,500 hens and 1,000 roosters.

Thompson said the hens in that specific house were laying at about 80 percent and he and his workers were collecting about 11,000 eggs a day.

The final stop of the tour was at a cotton trial field, which consisted of six different varieties of cotton.

The heat and dry weather caused the cotton plants to shed a lot of fruit early on, but Birdsong said that with the winter forecasted to be a La Nina weather pattern it could benefit cotton farmers.

“Still the question remains, ‘when are we going to have a cold snap?’ ” he said. “I think we can make some good yields, but everything has to click.”