Neil Reimer, a Seminole, Texas, peanut, wheat and cotton farmer, says peanut production costs run about $600 per acre and yields average 5,800 pounds per acre. Rotation, fertility and adequate water provide the backbone for his production program, but he admits to being meticulous about giving the crop what it needs to produce yield goals.
“I always set a 5,500 pound per acre target,” he says, “and everything I do is geared toward reaching that goal.”
In some cases, Reimer will hold back on nutrients, if soil tests indicate adequate levels. But he never hesitates to apply what’s necessary to make the yield, even in a down market.
“I take soil samples every year,” he says. “I spend money where it’s needed. If I have adequate levels of phosphorus, for instance, why spend money on it? It’s easy to spend more than necessary if we don’t know what we’re doing.”
There’s cutting costs, and then there’s cutting one’s own throat. Staying on the right side of the fine line that separates the two is the key to maintaining efficiency and high yields in peanut production, says Harris Devane, a southwest Georgia farmer and winner of the 2001 Farm Press Peanut Profitability Award for the Southeast Region.
“We have to keep our yields high enough to get a good return from the crop. We try to watch our input costs, but we’ve stuck with the same basic practices over the years,” says Devane, who farms with his father Marvin and farms some of his own land in Randolph County, Ga.
In addition to 225 acres of peanuts, Devane also grows cotton, corn, soybeans and wheat in a diversified family operation. In the past two years, he has double-cropped cotton behind wheat in a no-till system.
Whether he’s riding in his pickup checking fields for problems, pod-blasting peanuts to determine when to dig, or helping his wife Lucy tend to their brand-new infant son, Wayland is learning it’s the little things that count in a big way.
“All the little things you observe out riding around make a big difference,” Wayland says. Paying attention to the little things lead to profits. The Spruills have a five-year average yield of 3,500 pounds per acre, mostly on dryland peanuts.