2013 a challenging year for AL peanut farmers - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

2013 a challenging year for AL peanut farmers

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It's been a challenging year for Alabama peanut growers like Billy Hixon of Pike County. It's been a challenging year for Alabama peanut growers like Billy Hixon of Pike County.
TROY, AL (WSFA) -

There was a time when Pike County farmer Billy Hixon left a dusty trail in his peanut field.

"I remember the droughts we had," said Hixon.

Now, it's the opposite.

"I thought I was going to get stuck," said Hixon as his foot sunk into the soggy ground near a row of dead peanut plants.

Too much rain for this part of Hixon's peanut crop to survive, a portion of it choked with high weeds as well. Agriculture leaders say this summer has been by far the wettest in recent memory. The constant rains prevented growers to spray down the weeds.

"Whenever you plant you always run the risk of it not making it," Hixon said.

Billy Hixon has a peanut crop spread of 45 acres but he expects to lose around 5 acres. That means he stands to lose around $5,000.

"Look at this plant, rotten peanuts," said Hixon.

Beyond Pike County the overall peanut production in Alabama is expected to be down 55% compared to last year which by the way was a record year for growers.

The good thing is Hixon doesn't anticipate peanut prices to change at your neighborhood grocery store.

"We have an over abundance of peanuts left over from last year with the shellers so I just don't see the prices changing at all," said Hixon.

You may not realize that half of the peanuts grown in the United States are grown within a 100 mile radius of Dothan, Alabama. The peanut industry is a $211 million business in Alabama providing around 2,000 jobs.

So for now there is a sense of cautious optimism for at least an average peanut crop in Alabama in 2013.

"I'll be able to harvest these," said Hixon as he pointed to the good crop of peanut plants.

For Billy Hixon it's part of business, harvest as much as he can this year and do it all over again next spring.

Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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