According to Texas Agricultural Statistics Service, peanut acreage is down 9 percent from last year. Approximately 264,000 acres of peanuts were planted in Texas from March through June, compared to 347,000 acres in 2002.

However, yields are expected to average 3,300 pounds per acre, which is 200 pounds more than last year.

Joe Pena, Extension economist in Uvalde, said June rains forced some replanting and delayed plantings in Southwest Texas. Peanut acreage is also down this year because of some provisions of the 2002 farm bill, high production costs and expectation of lower prices.

"Harvest is 90 percent complete in the Coastal Bend. Yields are looking very good because we have had a near ideal growing season," Pena said.

Peanuts favor daily high temperatures around 95 degrees F and good soil moisture. High humidity in the plant canopy helps pollination and pegging. Weather conditions were ideal during the growing season, with temperatures between 95 and 100 degrees F.

Harvest begins in August for South Texas, in September for Southwest Texas and extends into November as harvest moves across the Southern Rolling Plains.

Texas is the second leading peanut producing state in the United States behind Georgia, which produces about 40 percent of the average annual U.S. production. Texas produces about 20 percent. The rest is divided among Alabama, Florida, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia, Pena said. "Yields range from 3,500 to 4,000 pounds per acre," he said.

Todd Baughman, Extension agronomist in Vernon, said the hot, dry weather in August slightly hampered peanut development in the Rolling Plains.

"However, current yields are still about average," Baughman said.

Lonnie Jenschke, Motley County Extension agent, said peanuts in his area are averaging about 2,000 to 2,500 pounds per acre.

"About 3,000 acres of peanuts were planted in June in the Rolling Plains. Disease and insect pressure have been light, which helped increase yields," he said.

e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com