The 2012 peanut production season was literally one for the record books, with growers throughout the U.S. making record-high yields and production. Having accomplished such a feat, many in the industry are asking, “What’s next?”

For the answer to this question, it’s important to take a look at what is in the peanut research pipeline — those problems, issues and initiatives currently being addressed that will lead to even more efficient and profitable peanut production.

Beginning today, and continuing for the next several days, we’ll take an in-depth look at some of the peanut research which will help improve the bottom line for growers in future years.

While some think U.S. peanut production may have peaked in 2012 — with an average U.S. yield of more than 2 tons per acre and a crop topping 3 million tons – others believe it was only a preview of things to come.

“There are varieties currently in the pipeline that show even more promise than the ones currently available,” says Marshall Lamb, research director for the National Peanut Research Laboratory and advisor for the Farm Press Peanut Profitability Awards.

It’s no coincidence that a steady rise in average U.S. peanut yields has followed the release of new and improved varieties, reaching a new height in 2012 of 4,192 pounds per acre.

U.S. peanut producers have seen a steady improvement in average yields in recent years, sometimes even despite non-ideal weather conditions, owing in no small part to improved genetics, says Lamb.

“We have a great team of scientists working on improved varieties, and if we can keep them funded, we’re on the verge of some major breakthroughs that’ll solve some big-time problems for the industry,” he says.

The genetics and biotechnology program at the National Peanut Lab, in collaboration with Auburn University and with plant breeders at the University of Georgia and University of Florida, is in the midst of exciting work, says Lamb.

“Conventional lines will be coming out that are comparable to GA-06G,” he says.

“Some have a lower outturn, which we need to get back to as an industry. We’ve gone way overboard with the kernel sizes on some of these new cultivars.