Peanut growers from throughout the Southeast, Virginia-Carolina and Southwest production regions are encouraged to participate in the Farm Press Peanut Profitability Award for 2006. The awards program is entering its seventh year, already having honored six classes of winners.

“The Farm Press Peanut Profitability Awards Program began with the first-ever Southern Peanut Growers Conference, and the two have grown together,” says Farm Press Publisher Greg Frey. “This year will mark the seventh class of Peanut Profitability winning growers, and each class continues to impress with their innovative ways of improving bottom-line profits.”

Since the program’s inception in 2000, the Peanut Profitability Awards have honored 18 deserving winners, says Frey.

“Since the inception of the Peanut Profitability Awards, producers have experienced historic and monumental changes, going from a government quota program to a more market-oriented approach. One of the aims of Peanut Profitability has been to recognize those growers who have shown amazing adaptability in the face of such changes, and who have continued to produce profitable peanut crops,” he says.

The awards are based on production efficiency, honoring those growers who produce the highest yields at the lowest cost per acre. Awards are presented to growers from the Southeast Region, including Alabama, Georgia and Florida; the Virginia-Carolina Region, including Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina; and the Southwest Region, including Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

Winners of the 2005 awards were honored for production efficiency achieved during the 2004 growing season. They included Robbie Umphlett, Gates, N.C., Virginia-Carolina Region; Fenn Farms, Clayton, Ala., Southeast Region; and Rex Carr, Levelland, Texas, Southwest Region.

The winning nominations for the 2006 awards will be based on production efficiency during the 2005 growing season. Winners of the 2006 awards will receive an expenses-paid trip for two to the Southern Peanut Growers Conference in Panama City, Fla., set for July 2006. They also will receive limited-edition signed and numbered prints from noted watercolor artist Jack DeLoney.

In addition, the winners are featured in special Peanut Profitability issues of Southeast Farm Press and Southwest Farm Press.

Acting as Program Advisor for the Peanut Profitability Award is Marshall Lamb, research leader with the National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Ga. Lamb, who was instrumental in the creation of the awards program, and has designed a nomination form to be used by growers in determining production efficiency.

“While achieving consistently high yields and grades is important, it's only part of the equation to maximizing profits. The elements of production cost and price are equally important factors,” says Lamb.

The grower nomination form for the Peanut Profitability Award is very extensive, notes Lamb, and considers both fixed and variable costs.

“We’ve had nominees in this program who had higher yields than most, but they did not correctly manage their cost structure. We’re looking at per-unit costs, and how effectively farmers manage their cost structures,” he says.

The awards program, he says, is based on a producer’s entire peanut operation. “We’re not talking about small plots in select fields. Rather, we look at the overall management of these growers. This includes yields, costs and marketing management for the entire farm, and most of our winners come from sizable farms,” says Lamb.

Assisting with the awards program is an Advisory Board comprised of Extension peanut specialists, county agents, economists and commodity group officials from the major peanut-producing states. They help to distribute nomination forms within their respective states and educate potential nominees about the program.

Farm Press editors, working with Lamb, select the regional winners from the pool of state nominees. Members of the Advisory Board, along with Lamb, are charged with periodically reviewing the awards program to insure consistency.

Data entered on a farmer's nomination form, notes Lamb, should be based on an entire farm operation and not on individual farms or small plots. Actual per-unit costs and returns information will remain confidential to Lamb and members of the Advisory Board.

Growers may submit their nomination form directly to the National Peanut Research Laboratory, or they may submit it to their county Extension agent, peanut specialist or economist. The deadline for all nominations is April 15, 2006.

Growers can access the nomination form via the Internet at southeastfarmpress.com and southwestfarmpress.com. In addition, it can be linked from various commodity group Web sites. To receive a hard copy of the form, call Farm Press headquarters at (662) 624-8503 or contact any member of the Advisory Board.

While recognizing deserving growers is important, it's only one part of the program, says Frey. “A second major component of the Peanut Profitability Program is education. Southeast Farm Press and Southwest Farm Press accomplished this in the past year by publishing numerous articles on peanut production efficiency. It also is our hope that farmers from throughout the Peanut Belt will learn from the production practices of growers who receive the award.”

Farm Press will continue to publish articles this year focusing on peanut production efficiency. Each article will bear the Peanut Profitability Program logo so it can be recognized easily by readers.

Peanut Profitability’s education component also has funded internships in the past two years to deserving college students majoring in agricultural communications.

e-mail: phollis@prismb2b.com