U.S. peanut producers faced several challenges in 2009, including a large carryover from the previous year’s crop, a salmonella outbreak, and dreadful harvest conditions.

Still, growers were eyeing the second largest average yield in U.S. history, and it’s expected there will be plenty of good nominees for the 2010 Farm Press Peanut Profitability Award.

“This awards program has set a standard of excellence during the past 11 years, and it has never been an easy honor to earn, but we’re anticipating another fine group of nominees for the 2010 awards,” says Marshall Lamb, research director for the National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Ga., and advisor for the awards program since its inception.

The Farm Press Peanut Profitability Awards are based on production efficiency, honoring those growers who produce the highest yields at the lowest cost per acre. Awards are presented to growers from the Southeast Region, including Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Mississippi; the Virginia-Carolina Region, including Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina; and the Southwest Region, including Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

The awards program has honored 10 classes of winners from throughout the U.S. Peanut Belt. Since the program’s beginning in 2000, the Peanut Profitability Awards have honored 30 deserving growers. The Farm Press Peanut Profitability Awards Program began with the first-ever Southern Peanut Growers Conference.

Winners of the 2010 awards will receive an expenses-paid trip for two to the Southern Peanut Growers Conference, set for July of next year in Panama City, Fla. They also will receive limited-edition signed and numbered prints from noted Southern watercolor artist Jack DeLoney.

In addition, the winners are featured in special Peanut Profitability issues of Southeast Farm Press, Southwest Farm Press and Delta Farm Press.

Lamb, who was instrumental in creating the criteria for the awards program, designed the nomination form used by growers in determining production efficiency.

“While achieving consistently high yields and grades is important, it’s only part of the equation to maximizing profits. The elements of production cost and price are equally important factors,” says Lamb.

The grower nomination form for the Peanut Profitability Award is very extensive, notes Lamb, and considers both fixed and variable costs.

“We’ve had nominees in this program with higher yields than most, but they did not correctly manage their cost structure. We’re looking at per-unit costs, and how effectively farmers manage their cost structures,” he says.

The awards program, he says, is based on a producer’s entire peanut operation. “We’re not talking about small plots in select fields. Rather, we look at the overall management of these growers. This includes yields, costs and marketing management for the entire farm, and most of our winners come from sizable farms,” says Lamb.

Assisting with the awards program is an Advisory Board comprised of Extension peanut specialists, county agents, economists and commodity group officials from the major peanut-producing states. They help to distribute nomination forms within their respective states and educate potential nominees about the program.

Farm Press editors, working with Lamb, select the regional winners from the pool of state nominees. Members of the Advisory Board, along with Lamb, are charged with periodically reviewing the awards program to insure consistency and accuracy.

Data entered on a farmer’s nomination form, notes Lamb, should be based on an entire farm operation and not on individual farms or small plots. Actual per-unit costs and returns information will remain confidential to Lamb and his staff.

Growers may submit their nomination form directly to the National Peanut Research Laboratory, or they may submit it to their county Extension agent, peanut specialist or economist. The deadline for all nominations is April 15, 2010.

Growers can access the nomination form via the Internet at http://www.southeastfarmpress.com, http://www.southwestfarmpress.com and http://www.deltafarmpress.com. In addition, it can be linked from various commodity group Web sites.

To receive a hard copy of the form, call Farm Press headquarters at (662) 624-8503.

e-mail: phollis@farmpress.com