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Farmers like what they see, taste, on annual tour

Judging from the bounty on the ground at one area farm Thursday, this year’s peanut crop is going to be a good one.

That news was one of many things area farmers learned as the Covington County Farmers’ Federation hosted a farm tour. President Russell Wiggins of the Carolina Community said the day is designed to give farmers a “firsthand look” at crops from all areas of the county.

An estimated 50 people traveled to three sites – Joe Williams’ farm in River Falls and two areas farmed by Tommy Thompson, an Andalusia farmer.

At Williams’ farm, farmers eyed 15 varieties of peanuts planted in cooperation with Auburn University.

“By hosting these events, it gives farmers valuable insight on what to plant,” Thompson said. “There are so many varieties of peanuts and cotton, but we don’t really know what works for our area. So, we do these test plots to get an actual of what these plants will do.

“And you can kind of think of it like networking for farmers because it gives us time to interact with each other,” he said. “On pretty days like (Thursday), most of us would usually be in the field, but we make time to do this because it’s important.”

Thompson said peanuts and cotton are complementary crops.

“You have to rotate your fields,” he said. “For every year of peanuts, you should plant three years of cotton. That helps to cut down on diseases. We look at these varieties to see what produces the best yield and what will work for our properties.”

Attendees – which also included State Rep. Mike Jones and Covington County Commissioner Harold Elmore – had the chance to taste-test the harvest.

“As soon as that tractor cleared, these guys were on the rows,” said County Extension Agent Charles “Chuck” Simon. “Nothing tastes better than a fresh peanut, straight out of the ground.”

After visiting the peanut site, the group traveled to Thompson’s farm sites where they were given a cotton picking machine demonstration and viewed a cotton test plot.