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Despite drought, some farmers could see good crop

DAWSON, Ga. (AP) — Late-season thunderstorms have come at the right time for Georgia farmers struggling to grow their crops in the ongoing drought, officials said.

Despite the dry year, the extra rainfall has been crucial since it came in the final weeks before farmers harvest cotton and peanuts, two of Georgia's main crops.

Some farmers anticipate a great year. New figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show this year's peanut crop in Georgia could break records.

Growers credit irrigation and the late-summer showers for the anticipated bumper crop for some. Almost half of Georgia's 3.8 million harvested croplands are irrigated.

"Things do look better," said Brian Creswell, an agricultural extension agent in Early County in South Georgia. "But I haven't heard anybody complaining about there being too much rain yet."

Still, longtime farmers say this extended drought reminds them of 1977, when corn withered, peanuts dried in the soil and cotton bolls curled in defeat. That was back when few growers irrigated, trusting nature to provide.

Terrell County farmer Edd Greene, who planted 850 acres of peanuts this year, is one. Nearly half his crops were "dry row," not irrigated. He harvested them early because the ground was too dry to support the plants any longer.

"They're sorry-looking peanuts," Greene said. "It's been a tough year."