You could best characterize 2010 as a year of wide variations for U.S. peanut producers, says Marshall Lamb, research director for the National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Ga., and advisor for the Farm Press Peanut Profitability Awards.

“This year, above any other, we’ve seen the widest range in peanut yields, and this includes the entire country, from Texas to Florida, up to the Carolinas and Virginia,” says Lamb.

Some areas, like southeast Alabama and southwest Georgia, had extensive drought and record-high temperatures, and growers in those areas had a total loss situation in some of their fields, he says. But in some areas, where the showers were timely, non-irrigated peanut fields did fairly well. It just depends on where you were located, says Lamb.

In inconsistent years such as the one growers experienced in 2010, improved peanut varieties continue to show their worth, he adds.

“Since we’ve had a pretty good couple of years from the standpoint of weather, the big question was whether or not these new varieties could withstand adverse conditions, and they certainly did. But like former University of Georgia Peanut Agronomist John Baldwin always said, ‘If it don’t rain, it don’t matter,’ and many growers can attest to that this year,” says Lamb.

The quality of the 2010 crop is definitely off from previous years, says Lamb. “We’re seeing a lot of Seg. 2’s and Seg. 3’s, and a lot of aflatoxin, and this is requiring that some of the peanuts be re-milled. This, or course, will affect the bottom line of growers, as will the fact that for many, this has been a high-input crop, requiring a lot of irrigation,” he says.