While it’s still early to make any hard and fast predictions on the 2013 U.S. peanut crop, it’s fairly certain there will be a significant decrease in planted acreage, even if increased export sales to China are realized.
“What we do know for certain is that we produced a lot of peanuts this past year,” says David Wright, University of Florida Extension agronomist.
“The Southeast produces almost 80 percent of U.S. peanuts with Georgia producing about 50 percent of the U.S. total. Generally, we had good weather conditions in 2012.
“All crops in the lower Southeast made really good yields this past year, including record-high peanut, cotton and corn yields.”
Wright presented a forecast of the 2013 U.S. peanut crop during the recent spring conference of the American Peanut Shellers Association, held in Albany, Ga.
Weather forecasters predict that drought conditions are likely to improve in Georgia, Florida, Alabama and into the Carolinas this year, suggesting a good growing season, says Wright.
The data shows that much of the U.S. is now about 1 degree higher in temperature, he adds.
“What does this mean? We do have warmer temperatures, and with these new large-seeded peanut varieties, we’ve been planting later. Generally, we would plant on about May 10 because of tomato spotted wilt virus.
“But by planting later, we weren’t getting the full impact of the new genetics.
“In the last few years, we’ve backed off that recommendation and we’re planting more in late April. That might be one of the reasons we’re seeing higher peanut yields.
“Not only do we have better varieties, but we’re planting in a season that is giving these new genetics — even in non-irrigated situations — a chance to come back and make a good crop of peanuts after going through a period of stress,” he says.
In the next few years as growers continue to plant early, Wright predicts yields will continue to be similar to those of 2012.
“In general, we saw a record year and a 3.37-million-ton crop produced in 2012,” he says. “That was about 600,000 tons more than the previous record of 2.7 million tons, and it was 1.5 million tons more than the 2011 short crop.”
To try and get an estimate on the 2013 U.S. peanut crop, Wright submitted questionnaires to Peanut Belt agronomists asking them for their thoughts and comments on the upcoming production year.
Acreage, production questionnaire
In the questionnaire, Wright asked the agronomists to consider the following three questions:
• Will acreage be up, down or steady in your state in 2013 and by approximately how much (percentage up or down) compared to last year?
• What will be the predominant cultivars in your state?
• What do you foresee as the most critical production issues (pests, soil fertility, water, marketing/contracting, etc.) in your state going into the 2012 crop?
Answers provided by the agronomists are as follows, including those from Wright.
Virginia had about 20,000 acres of peanuts this past year with an average yield of about 4,200 pounds per acre. They’re estimating their acreage will be down to around 10,000 in 2013.
Production issues this past year included too much vine growth and manganese deficiencies late in the season. Primary cultivars planted will be Virginia-type Bailey and Suggs.
North Carolina’s acreage is expected to drop by about 30 percent from 106,000 acres to about 70,000 acres. They had a record-high yield of 4,200 pounds per acre.
South Carolina’s acreage is expected to be down by about 35 percent to about 70,000 acres this year from 107,000 acres in 2012. The state’s average yield was about 3,900 pounds this past year.
Growers had a few problems from drought conditions and disease pressure. About 70 percent of the varieties planted are Virginia-type.
New Mexico peanut producers planted about 8,000 acres in 2012, and they’re expected to plant 3,000 to 5,000 acres in 2013. They had the lowest yields of any state this past year at 3,000 pounds per acre, and their primary production issue was that they were in the second year of a major drought.
They plant primarily Valencia-type peanuts. They had contracts in 2012 of about $1,200 per ton, and they expect those to be down to about $750 per ton this year.
Oklahoma peanut producers planted 22,000 acres in 2012, and they’re expected to drop to about 20,000 acres this year.
They had a record-high yield of 3,800 pounds this past year. Key production issues in 2012 included drought and an early freeze. Cultivars include runners Tamrun-OL07 and the Spanish peanut Tamnut-06.
Arkansas growers planted about 18,000 acres in 2012, with a yield of 4,500 pounds per acre, which is the second-highest to Georgia. They expect to be down to 10,000 to 15,000 acres this year.
A lot of new growers
Production issues there mostly were due to having a lot of new growers. They were planting with 12-row planters and digging with eight-row diggers.
There was some thrips and hopper damage and some tomato spotted wilt virus pressure.
Buying points were challenged with a demand for trailers.
Primary cultivars included GA-06G, GA-09B and Florida-07 and Florida-107.
Texas peanut acreage in 2012 was at 125,000, and they expect an acreage drop of about 10 to 15 percent, down to 110,000 acres. Yields in 2012 were 3,800 pounds per acre.
Key production issues included drought and lack of uniform maturity. Water stress and split crops were seen in 2012.
Primary cultivars included FlavorRunner 458, Tamrun-OL07 and some Virginia-types. Seed availability was an issue in 2012 and is expected to continue in 2013. Price premiums for Valencia-types did affect acreage this past year.
Mississippi’s acreage last year was 49,000 with a yield of 4,400 pounds per acre. They expect that acreage to be down to about 20,000 this year. The main reason is that they have a large grain infrastructure for corn and soybeans, so it’s easy for growers to convert to other crops.
Primary varieties planted are GA-06G and Florida-07.
Alabama’s acreage in 2012 was at 218,000, with a yield of 4,000 pounds per acre. That is expected to be down 20 to 25 percent to about 170,000 acres in 2013.
Before the 2002 farm bill, Alabama generally grew about 200,000 acres of peanuts every year, and the crop was grown in only 17 counties. Now, peanuts are grown in 33 counties with essentially the same acreage, so rotations have improved and that has helped with yields.
Key production issues include dry weather, especially since most of Alabama’s crop is non-irrigated. Early planting did allow peanuts to wait for rainfall later in the season. Most of the peanuts were not dug until they were 160 days old. Some were 180 days old and made very good yields.
Primary cultivars grown are GA-06G and Florida-07.
Results for Georgia
Georgia producers had the highest U.S. yield at 4,550 pounds per acre on 730,000 acres. Expected acreage this year is between 490,000 and 500,000 acres.
Growers are being strongly encouraged to reduce acreage. Georgia’s 2011 acreage of 460,000 was the lowest in the state since 1926, and producers have planted less than a half-million acres only five times since then.
Growers are being advised to wait until the soil temperature at 4 inches is 70 degrees rather 65 degrees before planting. In most years, it’s not warm enough to plant peanuts in Georgia before April 15.
White mold has been the primary pest in the past three years. Plant pathologists are recommending fungicide application at 28 to 35 days after planting.
At least 80 percent of the cultivars planted in 2013 will be GA-06G along with about 5 percent each of Tifguard, GA-07W, Florida-07 and Georgia Greener.
Florida growers planted about 200,000 acres this past year. Acreage is expected to decline by 130,000 to 140,000 acres. Some Florida producers have more options on what to grow than those in the sandier soils.
Key production issues this past year included dry weather early in the season and glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth pigweed. Primary cultivars to be planted this year include GA-06G, Florida-07 and Tifguard. In the Live Oak area, growers rotate peanuts with corn.
In 2012, says Wright, peanut agronomists had estimated 1.577 million planted acres, a little more than USDA estimates but still lower than the final figure.
The five-year average yield, not including 2012, is 3,250 pounds of peanuts per acre. In 2012, the average U.S. yield was 4,192 pounds per acre, the highest ever and almost 1,000 pounds more than the average.
“From what the peanut agronomists say this year, it looks as though the peanut acreage for 2013 might be at 1.116 million acres as compared to where we ended up in 2012 at 1.626 million.
“This would be about 32 percent lower. A lot will depend on our yields this year. Exports will be critical to maintain a stable industry. Generally, cotton and peanuts are the best crops we can grow in the Southeast, especially on our non-irrigated land,” says Wright.
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