“Currently, about 80 percent of the Canadian peanut butter market comes from U.S. peanuts. The fastest growing customer for U.S. peanuts is Mexico. So, taking care of our trading partners in North America is another key to a successful export year for U.S. grown peanuts,” the USDA economist says.

At the end of the day, Lamb says U.S. peanut growers need to produce about a 1.5 to 1.6 million ton crop. Again, how likely that is to happen is still very much unknown — some depends on weather and some depends on how many peanuts were actually planted.

If U.S. growers do come in with a 1.5 million ton crop, it would be a huge drop from the 3.4 million ton farmer stock peanut crop produced last year, Lamb adds.

The most recent USDA estimates still call for moderate cuts in peanut acreage. However, key peanut producing areas in the southern half of South Carolina and in the eastern part of the Georgia peanut belt may have additional acreage to be abandoned, which may cut actual planted acreage to somewhat lower levels.

In Georgia, for example, harvested acreage is being projected at 500,000 acres, down from 730,000 acres last year. Most experts contend another 5-10 percent likely will be abandoned or at best be of marginal quality and yield.

In South Carolina, much of the peanut acreage in the southern end of the belt remained flooded as of late July. Again, the USDA projection of 80,000 acres harvested will likely be too high.

Rast, who buys peanuts in a 60-mile radius of Cameron, S.C., — in the lower end of the state — says most of his growers are in the same 30 percent loss category as he’s in this year.

Harvested acreage in Florida may likewise be affected, because many areas of the Panhandle, the peanut production area of the state, were hit with more than 20 inches of rain in June and July, during the peak of peanut development.

However, in general, most contend this year’s crop looks fairly good in Florida.



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