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Above-average winter warmth may lead to complications for 2022 growing season

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 6:04 PM CST
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - One grower from Mitchell County said “it’s terrifying” when it comes to his concerns for his cotton and corn crops in 2022.

One reason is that Southwest Georgia’s nights haven’t been cold enough to eliminate crop-killing insects and bacteria.

If the trends continue, growers said prices of grocery items will be affected at harvest.

Tom Windhausen said he expects to see September-level high rates of disease as the planting season begins.

This will impact how much you will be paying for corn, cotton, and even beef.

“A lot of people down south think this is why we moved down here, this is why we love it. But we also have to think, I have to think, working with cotton growers, peanut growers, corn growers, soybean growers, that this weather also has an impact on our agriculture as well,” said Bob Kemerait, a professor and extension specialist at the University of Georgia.

The lack of frigid temps is leading to more disease and potentially, higher prices at grocery...
The lack of frigid temps is leading to more disease and potentially, higher prices at grocery stores.(WALB)

The lack of frigid temps is leading to more disease and potentially, higher prices at grocery stores.

“A lot of our stuff is coming from China. It’s floating offshore in a container box somewhere. We don’t even know what chemicals are going to be available. Maybe the ones that we need. God forbid that we have an outbreak of a disease of an insect, and we can’t get the chemical,” said Windhausen.

It could take less than two weeks for a particular insect to take over a crop. That’s why Windhausen is concerned about this year’s crop and the prices you might be paying next year at the register.

“The bottom line of everything we do is for the consumer. We grow and sell it to the consumer. So if crops are short, the prices go up.” Windhausen said.

|RELATED: Counting cotton: Tracking cotton production in SWGA

One source of this disease is whiteflies, according to Windhausen. Prevention can cost 8-20% of a given crop budget for a season. It’ll be even more if we don’t get colder weather.

“The colder it gets, the further down into Florida that the whiteflies that can be a horrible problem get. The further down the state of Florida, they’re killed. The longer it takes for them to migrate up here,” he said.

Just how unusual has the warmth been? Windhausen said has been seeing a growth of tomatoes — a late spring crop. Some gardeners have likely seen unusual growing patterns.

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