Drake Farms takes top honorsPublished 10:11am Wednesday, February 27, 2013
BY STEPHEN H. COWLES/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
COURTLAND—All the right elements — seed, sun and rain — came together for the peanut crop at Drake Farms in Sunbeam, earning the family a trophy for the best yield in 2012 in Southampton County.
Walter Drake, 54, and his sons, Matt, 29, and Jason, 25, harvested 5,418 pounds per acre on 129 acres at their Century Farm.
“Proper rotation, better seed, better chemicals and good weather,” Walter Drake said are what helped. “It was a mighty good year for us.”
They and other peanuts farmers attended the annual meeting of Virginia Peanut Growers Association at the Southampton Fairgrounds on Thursday.
The state winners were Kevin Monahan and his sons, Drew and Brad, from Sussex. They harvested 5,547 pounds per acre on 169 acres, said Dell Cotton, executive director of the association.
Usually, said Walter Drake, his farm’s yields are a little over 4,000 pounds per acre.
He added the farm took the same title sometime in the 1990s.
Walter Drake would like to match the 2012 harvest this year, but admits the odds are uncertain.
“We just do the best we can,” he said. “If we get rainfall at the right time and all that, we hope to make a good crop again,” said Walter Drake.
A production meeting was held before the ceremony. Updates were given on marketing, production and research.
“We are always looking for ways to grow peanuts as efficiently as possible,” said Cotton. “The Tidewater Agricultural Research Extension Center in Suffolk tries to center on that. They find new treatments for things that affect growers.”
Different chemicals are an example because sometimes they’re taken off the market and news ones have to be found, he said.
Better rotational and tillage practices as well as new varieties are other concerns.
“It’s an ongoing process,” said Cotton.