At our first stop, this farming operation had fields where peanuts were strip cropped between rows of pecan trees (shown in background). The farming operation went from around 1500 to 900 pecan trees after the hurricanes in the 1980s. The pecan trees were around 80 years old.
Peanut plant up close. The soils in this part of Alabama are highly acidic and peanuts like a pH between 5.8-6.8 and well-drained soil, so the producers add quite a bit of lime. Different maturities of peanuts are grown so they’re harvested anywhere from September to October.
Sweet potatoes! I absolutely love to eat them 🙂 This farm had tried a variety of crops in the past and continues to grow cotton and peanuts as well for a rotation with the sweet potatoes. With low commodity prices for the other crops, sweet potatoes provided another source of income. They are planted mid-April and will be harvested early August this year. The smaller sweet potatoes will go to a canning facility. Potatoes have to be at least 2″ in diameter to be processed for sweet potato fries.
The nephew of the sweet potato farmer was interested in value-added herbs and greens. He put up this greenhouse 11 months ago and has been growing hydroponic greens and herbs for high end restaurants and supermarkets.
A cotton plant. Cotton is actually in the hibiscus family and can get 5-7 feet tall. Growth regulators are used to keep the cotton short so more energy goes into producing cotton instead of vegetative material like leaves and branches. While not easily seen on this picture, the “squares” are where each cotton blossom and seed will be produced.
Auburn Extension Specialist explaining how a cotton plant puts on a new node (where flowers and seed are produced) about every 3 days. He was also showing the shortened internode length due to adding growth regulators to the cotton. Cotton was often no-tilled into wheat. They have similar findings as we do here regarding the improved yields of crops following wheat in dryland. Although, interestingly, they receive on average 66″ of rain a year and Mobile, AL has surpassed Seattle as the rainiest city in the U.S.