The 2013 U.S. peanut production year can best be viewed as a contrast to many past years – rainfall was ample, even excessive in many areas of the growing belt, says Marshall Lamb, research director for the National Peanut Research Laboratory and advisor for the Farm Press Peanut Profitability Awards.
“A lot of our farmers are just not accustomed to growing peanuts or any other crop for that matter under such conditions,” says Lamb.
In the lower Southeast, there was flooding in some fields and planting was delayed by as much as a month in some areas due to cold, wet conditions during the spring, he adds.
“It’s amazing that even with this year’s reduced acreage, the total U.S. crop will be pushing 2 million tons with and an average yield of about 3,900 pounds per acre. That’s phenomenal when you consider the weather conditions seen by producers in some parts of the U.S. Peanut Belt,” says Lamb.
The good yields in 2013 say a lot about the management skills and production tools being used by growers, he says. “When looking at these tools, genetics are certainly at the top of the list. These new cultivars are performing beyond all expectations. Also, we have excellent fungicide programs for peanuts, and many of our producers are effectively using GPS and losing fewer peanuts at harvest. Farmers are putting all of this together to make consistently high yields.”
While the better-than-expected yields this year are encouraging, they add to an oversupply that has plagued the market for several months now, says Lamb.
“We’ll definitely go into 2013 with an oversupply in the market again. Our growers did a good job this year of reducing acreage to meet market demand, but higher yields add to the supply. The bright side is that we’re moving a lot of peanuts because the price and quality make our peanuts a good value to customers. The National Peanut Board, American Peanut Council and other groups have done an excellent job of promoting U.S. peanuts and extolling the health benefits of peanuts.”
Arkansas producers eligible for premier peanut awards program
Better-than-average yields throughout the Peanut Belt in 2013 should translate into a excellent group of nominations for the Peanut Profitability Award’s fifteenth class of winning producers. “We’re looking forward to having a lot of good nominations for the 2014 awards, with excellent yields throughout the growing regions and some really exceptional yields in the Southwest and the Upper Southeast regions," Lamb said.
For the first time in the history of the awards program, Arkansas growers will be eligible to compete in 2014, says Lamb. “In 2012, Arkansas had 18,000 acres and this year an estimated 11,000 acres, which was slightly higher than early estimates projected. Arkansas has proven itself as a major peanut-producing state, and we welcome nominations from the fine growers there.”
Lamb, who was instrumental in developing the criteria for the awards program, has been advisor since the program’s inception. He says it’s no easy feat for growers to be nominated for and then to win the award.
“Peanut Profitability has set a standard of excellence during its existence, and while it has never been an easy honor to earn, I expect another fine group of nominees in 2014.”
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 Lower Southeast, including Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and Arkansas; the Upper Southeast, including Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina; and the Southwest, including Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
The awards program has honored 14 classes of winners from throughout the U.S. Peanut Belt. Since the program’s beginning in 2000, the Peanut Profitability Awards have honored 42 deserving growers or farms. The awards program began with the first-ever Southern Peanut Growers Conference in conjunction with the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation.
Winners of the 2014 awards will receive an expenses-paid trip for two to the Southern Peanut Growers Conference, set for July 2014 in Panama City, Fla. In addition, the winners are featured in special Peanut Profitability issues of Southeast Farm Press, Southwest Farm Press and Delta Farm Press.
“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 in our evaluation of nominees,” says Lamb.
The grower nomination form for the Peanut Profitability Award is very extensive, notes Lamb, and it 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 or a farm’s entire peanut operation. “We’re not talking about small plots in select fields. Rather, we look at the overall management by 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, 2014.
Growers can access the nomination form via the Internet at southeastfarmpress.com, southwestfarmpress.com, and deltafarmpress.com. In addition, it can be linked from various commodity group websites. To receive a hard copy of the form, call Farm Press headquarters at (662) 624-8503 or contact any member of the Advisory Board, shown below:
The 2014 Peanut Profitability Award Program officials and advisory board
Paul L. Hollis, Editor, Southeast Farm Press
1018 Stage Road
P.O. Box 1415
Auburn, AL 36830
Marshall Lamb, Research Leader
USDA National Peanut Research Laboratory
1011 Forester Drive
Dawson, GA 31740
Nathan B. Smith, Agricultural Economist, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service
Rural Development Center
15 RDC Road
P.O. Box 1209
Tifton, GA 31794
Kris Balkcom, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Wiregrass Research & Extension Station
Highway 134 East
P.O. Box 217
Headland, AL 36345
Ken Barton, Executive Director, Florida Peanut Producers Association
2741 Penn. Ave Suite 1
Marianna FL 32448
Mike Howell, Area Extension Agent, Mississippi State University
2315 17th Street
P.O. Box Z
Gulfport, MS 39502
Malcolm Broome, Executive Director, Mississippi Peanut Growers Association
Petal, MS 39465
David Jordan, Crop Science Extension Specialist, North Carolina State University
4207 Williams Hall
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695
North Carolina Peanut Growers Association
P.O. Box 8
Nashville, NC 27856-0008
Virginia Peanut Growers Association
P.O. Box 59 1001 Campbell Ave.
Franklin, VA 23851
Edisto Research and Education Center
64 Research Road
Blackville, S.C. 29817
Virginia Tech Tidewater AREC
6321 Holland Road
Suffolk, VA 23437
(757) 657-6450 ext. 407
Southwest Texas Peanut Growers Association
P.O. Box 252
Seminole, TX 79360
Texas AgriLife Extension Service
1102 E FM 1294
Lubbock, TX 79403
Oklahoma State University
376 Agricultural Hall
Stillwater, OK 74078-6028
Texas Peanut Producers Board
4205 North Interstate 27
Lubbock, Texas 79403