One obvious answer for South Carolina growers is to grow fewer peanut acres and count on continued increases in production to add value per acre to the crop.

Prior to the 2012 crop, the state average yield was about 3,000 pounds per acre. Last year on more acres state growers produced 4,000 pounds per acre. The 25 percent increase in production would more than make up for a drop in price from $500 per ton to $400 per ton.

South Carolina Peanut Specialist Scott Monfort says growers in the state have more tools than ever before to increase production.

“Our growers grow about a 60-40 mix of Virginia type and runner type peanuts, and we have varieties in each that have proven to have high yield potential. We saw plenty of fields last year in the 6,000 pound per acre range,” Monfort says.

In variety tests at two sites in South Carolina, he had five runner type varieties average better than 5,000 pounds per acre. Florida 07, Georgia 09B, Georgia 06G, Georgia 07W and Florunner 107 all topped 5,000 pounds last year and each brings to the table several options to help growers overcome specific production challenges, he notes.

In addition, among runner types, under irrigation Georgia 06C has proven to be a top yielding variety.

As evidence of the high yielding potential of runner types in South Carolina, for the first time anyone can remember, runner types won the annual state yield contest.

Emmett Rouse, who farms near Luray, S.C., took top honors with more than 5,800 pounds per acre of Georgia Greener and Georgia 06G runner type peanuts.

Virginia type peanuts in South Carolina have even higher yield potential, Monfort says.

In variety testing last year, Georgia 11J, Bailey and Florida Fancy, all Virginia types, were pushing 6,000 pounds and most of the commonly grown varieties in the state topped 5,000 pounds per acre, the state peanut specialist says.

“Peanut growing conditions were excellent last year, and we don’t always get weather that good. Still, we have excellent varieties and excellent pest management systems, and our growers have learned how to grow high yielding peanuts, so there is no good reason we can’t increase the per acre value of peanuts in South Carolina,” Monfort adds.

(Regardless of how 2013 plays out, the peanut industry will continue moving forward. Setting goals is part of that progress and you can look into the future at Improving grower economics is National Peanut Board leader's goal).

rroberson@farmpress.com