Record-high peanuts yields were recorded this past year in Georgia and South Carolina, with Oklahoma growers tying their yield record, according to the final U.S. peanut crop estimate from USDA. The average U.S. peanut yield also hit a record-high in 2003.

U.S. production of peanuts in 2003 totaled 2,072,075 tons, up 25 percent from last year’s crop and up 1 percent from the November forecast. Planted area, at 1.34 million acres, was down 1 percent from 2002. Harvested acreage totaled 1.31 million acres, up 1 percent from last year.

The U.S. yield per harvested acre averaged a record-high of 3,159 pounds, up 598 pounds from 2002.

Production in the Southeastern states, including Georgia, Florida, Alabama and South Carolina, totaled 1,358,000 tons, up 45 percent from 2002. Most growers in the lower Southeastern states saw near-perfect weather both for growing and harvesting. Area planted totaled 879,000 acres, up 9 percent from last year. Harvested acreage was 857,000 acres, also up 9 percent from last year. The average yield for the Southeast was 3,238 pounds per acre, up 804 pounds from 2002.

Georgia growers boasted an average yield of 3,450 pounds per acre from 540,000 acres and Florida producers averaged 3,000 pounds per acre from 115,000 acres. In Alabama, peanut growers averaged 2,750 pounds per acre from 185,000 acres while South Carolina growers harvested 3,400 pounds per acre from 17,000 acres.

Production from Virginia and North Carolina totaled 207,850 tons, up 26 percent from 2002. Planted acres, at 135,000 acres, were down 15 percent from 2002. Harvested acres, at 133,000 acres, also were down 15 percent from the previous year. The average yield for the Virginia-Carolina region was 3,126 pounds per acre, up 1,026 pounds from 2002.

Virginia growers harvested 2,900 pounds per acre from 33,000 acres while North Carolina producers harvested 3,200 pounds per acre from 100,000 acres.

The Southwest peanut crop, including New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, totaled 476,950 tons, down 12 percent from 2002. Planted acres, at 330,000, were down 16 percent from last year. Harvested acres, at 322,000 acres, were down 9 percent from 2002. Yields for the Southwest tri-state region averaged 2,962 pounds per acre or 84 pounds less than in 2002.

Peanut producers in New Mexico harvested 2,700 pounds per acre from 17,000 acres while growers in Oklahoma averaged 2,800 pounds per acre from 35,000 acres. Texas growers averaged 3,000 pounds per acre from 270,000 acres.

e-mail: phollis@primediabusiness.com