Peanut picking in a pandemic

Peanut picking in a pandemic

SYLVANIA, Ga. (WTOC) - It takes approximately 150 days in between planting and harvesting peanuts, something the Boyd family has been doing in Effingham and Screven counties for more than a century.

Damp conditions aren't idea for turning over peanuts, but many factors haven't been idea this season.
Damp conditions aren't idea for turning over peanuts, but many factors haven't been idea this season. (Source: WTOC)

When the Boyd family planted nearly 1,000 acres of peanuts this spring, we were in the beginning stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now that peanuts are coming out of the ground, the Boyd family is looking back on this one-of-a-kind growing season.

“I would say 2020 has kind of been a challenge from start to finish, but I’ve been doing this for well over twenty years and I haven’t found one yet that hasn’t had its challenges,” said Ben Boyd, farmer.

Despite the unique challenges of this growing season, the Boyd family had no choice but to push forward.

One of Ben Boyd's tractors works to turn over peanuts in the fog.
One of Ben Boyd's tractors works to turn over peanuts in the fog. (Source: WTOC)

“Probably our biggest challenge has been supply chain issues. It’s hard to get stuff, it is hard to get everything that goes into the crop with the country in the uproar it was in, it was hard to get everything on time. The peanuts didn’t care, they had to have what they had to have right then,” said Boyd.

“We’ve got to get it planted, we’ve got to get it sprayed, we’ve got to get it fertilized on time and now if we don’t come back for a month, there won’t be any peanuts left and we won’t have any chance of paying our bills,” said Boyd.

Adapting to have a successful peanut harvest was not just important to the Boyd family, the peanut industry plays a large role in Georgia’s economy.

One turned over, peanuts need a few days to dry. This is the same foggy field seen in the pictures above, soaking up the sunshine the same afternoon. Photo credit: Leslie Teston.
One turned over, peanuts need a few days to dry. This is the same foggy field seen in the pictures above, soaking up the sunshine the same afternoon. Photo credit: Leslie Teston. (Source: Leslie Teston)

In fact, Georgia is the top peanut producer in the United States, growing about 45% of this country’s peanuts, valued at more than $600 million.

“Everybody wants to feel like they did something that’s worthwhile, and I feel like if you can go grow peanuts they’re probably the most affordable most nutritious food you can get, and it tastes good. Man, you can’t beat that with a stick,” said Boyd

From peanut butter to peanut oil and even Halloween candy, there’s a good chance the peanut products in your home were sourced in Georgia.

“It’s sustainable and it’s going to be here a long time. I hope when you talk to my little boy 25 years from now, he’s still growing peanuts,” said Boyd.

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