Many areas of the Peanut Belt, especially in the lower Southeast, experienced poor harvest conditions this year, with excessive rainfall in September and October followed by a stalled tropical storm in November.

Nevertheless, USDA is predicting an average yield that would be the second highest on record, behind last year’s crop.

Total production is forecast at 3.63 billion pounds, down slightly from earlier forecasts and down 30 percent from last year. Area for harvest is expected to total 1.08 million acres, down 28 percent from 2008. Yields are expected to average 3,353 pounds per acre, down 73 pounds from the 2008 record yield of 3,426 pounds per acre.

Production in the Southeast States (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina) is expected to total 2.75 billion pounds, down 1 percent from October estimates and down 28 percent from last year. Expected area for harvest, at 825,000 acres, is down 25 percent from 2008.

Yields in the Southeast region are expected to average 3,334 pounds per acre, 98 pounds below last year. Yields are forecast lower than earlier estimates in all Southeast states except Georgia, which remains unchanged at a record high 3,500 pounds. Harvest progress was behind average in most states in the region due to abundant rainfall and wet field conditions.

Virginia-North Carolina production is forecast at 287 million pounds, down 35 percent from 2008. Expected area for harvest, at 78,000 acres, is unchanged from the previous forecast but down 36 percent from last year. The average yield is forecast at 3,685 pounds per acre, 54 pounds higher than the 2008 average. Record-high yields are expected in both states.

As of Nov. 1, Virginia growers had harvested 93 percent of their peanut crop. In North Carolina, however, harvest was only 80 percent complete, due to heavy rainfall and below average temperatures during October.

Southwest peanut production (New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas) is expected to total 590 million pounds, down 36 percent from 2008. Expected acreage for harvest, at 179,000, is down 36 percent from last year. Yields in the region are expected to average 3,296 pounds per acre, down 14 pounds from the previous year.

e-mail: phollis@farmpress.com