Despite one of the driest September’s on record in Georgia — where more than half of this country’s peanuts are produced — the U.S. crop still is forecast at a whopping 2,459,650 tons, up 15 percent from last year's crop and down only 2 percent from earlier forecasts.

U.S. peanut acreage is expected to total 1.646 million acres for 2005, unchanged from September but up 15 percent from last year. Yields are expected to average 3,061 pounds per acre, down 56 pounds from September and down 15 pounds from 2004.

Peanut production in Georgia is forecast at 2.25 billion pounds, compared with last year's revised 1.82 billion pounds. Harvested acres are expected to be 750,000 compared with 610,000 in 2004. Yields across the Georgia peanut belt are expected to average 3,000 pounds per acre, down 100 pounds per acre from last month but 20 pounds more than last year. The reduction in yield was caused primarily by the dry month of September.

By the end of September, most of the crop was rated in fair to good condition.

Peanut production in the entire Southeast region, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, is expected to total 1,741,850 tons, down 2 percent from September but up 22 percent from last year's level. Expected acreage for harvest, at 1.18 million, is unchanged from September but up 21 percent from last year.

Yields in the four-state area are expected to average 2,960 pounds per acre, 69 pounds below last month but 27 pounds above 2004.

As of Oct. 2, peanut harvest was 28 percent complete in Alabama, 35 percent complete in Florida, and 27 percent complete in Georgia. Alabama and Florida lagged behind their five-year averages by 14 percentage points while Georgia was 5 percentage points behind its five-year average.

Peanut production in Virginia and North Carolina is forecast at 179,600 tons, down 3 percent from September and down 24 percent from 2004. Expected acreage for harvest, at 118,000, is unchanged from September but down 14 percent from last year. Yield is forecast at 3,044 pounds per acre, down 81 pounds from September and down 398 pounds from the previous year.

As of Oct. 2, peanut harvest was 9 percent complete in North Carolina and 22 percent complete in Virginia. Both states lagged behind their five-year averages by 6 and 12 percentage points, respectively.

In the Southwest, including New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, peanut production is expected to total 538,200 tons, unchanged from September but up 11 percent from 2004.

The expected acreage for harvest in the region totals 312,000, unchanged from September but up 9 percent from 2004. Yields are expected to average 3,450 pounds per acre, unchanged from September but 62 pounds above last year's level.

Record-high yields are still expected in Oklahoma and Texas.

On Oct. 2, peanut harvest in Oklahoma was 14 percent complete and harvest in Texas was 8 percent complete. Oklahoma and Texas also lagged behind their five-year averages by 3 and 7 percentage points, respectively.

e-mail: phollis@primediabusiness.com