Virginia peanut growers got the $600 per ton contracts they have been seeking to increase plantings, but new guidelines for the use of Vapam, and questions as to the availability of Temik, has put any further acreage growth in jeopardy.

Implementation of new Federal regulations for use of Vapam has created a furor among Virginia peanut growers. Most acreage, some estimate over 90 percent, is already under contract. Most of the peanut contracts were signed before growers knew about the new guidelines for Vapam.

The high contract prices had the desired effect in some areas of the Carolina-Virginia peanut belt. In other parts of the region, even at $650 a ton, the risk of growing peanuts doesn’t add up to cotton at anything close to a dollar a pound or corn at $6 a bushel. Whether $650 a ton is enough to offset more stringent guidelines earmarked for Vapam implementation in 2012 is questionable.

“A lot of people in southeast Virginia signed contracts early, so I think acreage in our area will be up a little maybe — I don’t see any decrease in acreage,” says Suffolk, Va., peanut grower John Crumpler.

“Had growers not signed the early contracts, I think there may have been some decrease in acreage — and there may be some loss in acreage in future years,” he adds. In our area of southeast Virginia, I don’t know of anyone who planted peanuts in 2010, who won’t be planting them again in 2011,” he added

The rules with Vapam make it tough to use it on peanuts, but on land highly susceptible to cylindrocladium black rot (CBR), it has been a standard treatment for disease control for many years.

New regulations require extensive training for use of respirators, posting of land and other Federally-mandated regulations. This will make it difficult to use Vapam.

Crumpler, the 2009 Peanut Profitability winner, says he will use Proline and seed treatment fungicides to protect his peanuts from CBR.