From making a bumper crop in dryland conditions to irrigating 25 times, the 2014 Farm Press Peanut Profitability Award winners covered the entire spectrum in weather conditions this past year, all while maintaining the efficiency required to earn this prestigious honor.

“In the Southeast, and in the Virginia-Carolinas region, it could best be categorized as a year of excessive rainfall throughout the growing season and up until harvest. In other word, it looks a lot like how we started this year,” says Marshall Lamb, research director of the National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Ga., and advisor for the Peanut Profitability Award. “Of course, west Texas was extremely dry.”

All winning growers achieved outstanding yields, says Lamb, and it was because they were timely with either their fungicide or their irrigation applications.

“I know of some farmers who got behind on their fungicide programs last year, and it cost them dearly from a yield standpoint,” says Lamb. “Our Southeast and V-C winners stayed on top of their programs, and it paid off. Our Southwest winners never let up, irrigating 25 inches during the course of the season. To make 3 ½ tons per acre and to have to irrigate 25 inches to do it is a phenomenal feat. They worked hard to make this crop.”

Looking throughout the U.S. Peanut Belt for 2013, growers delivered the second highest-yielding crop ever, says Lamb, even with excessive rainfall in the Southeast and prolonged drought in the West.

“It just goes back to the high caliber of farmers we have today. They’re doing whatever they need to produce the crop, and they’re delivering it,” he says.

With the wet weather the Southeast and V-C growers had to contend with, it all goes back to the fungicide programs in those areas, says Lamb.

“They got on top of disease threats in the beginning and they stayed on top throughout the production season. Our Texas growers made one fungicide treatment, but they can get by with that in their arid conditions. They recognized the threat of drought and very aggressively irrigated throughout the year. All these winners recognized the need to be early or timely with their respective fungicide and irrigation programs.”

Historically, Peanut Profitability Award winners have had relatively low overhead costs and have been extremely efficient operators, notes Lamb.

“Owen Yoder of the lower Southeast says all of his equipment is paid for and is fully depreciated. That has been a common theme in the 15-year history of the program – the ability to efficiently handle overhead costs.

“It’s a matter keeping the right balance of equipment that has depreciated out versus that which may still have some depreciation on it. And the right balance relative to the number of acres that the farmer is growing. All of our honorees had really outstanding yields, and they did a great job of marketing, receiving well above the average price received by growers for this past year’s crop.”