It was a very good year. Make that another very good year for Neil Reimer, Seminole, Texas, peanut, cotton and wheat producer and the 2001 Southwest Farm Press Peanut Profitability Award winner.

“We made an excellent crop,” Reimer says. “Prices were not great, but we have no complaints with yields.”

Reimer says Virginia peanuts averaged 5,800 pounds per acre. “We stripped some cotton that went 3.5 bales per acre, and averaged around 2.9 on 1500 acres. We made good crops in 2001.”

Reimer plants reduced-till peanuts, seeding into wheat stubble and keeping cultivators out of the crop as much as possible. He says advantages include reduced damage from blowing sand, increased irrigation efficiency and elimination of root pruning that hinders yields.

Rotation plays a big role in both cotton and peanuts.

“I'll continue to follow the three-crop program,” he says. “I'll plant 800 to 1,000 acres of wheat and after harvest let the land lay out until the next spring. I'll plant peanuts and cotton in the stubble. I really like to follow wheat with peanuts. The only way to make consistently good yields is to rotate.”

Reimer maintains consistent high peanut yields by following a proven production system. The basics include:

  • Rotation

  • Irrigation, providing adequate water when it's needed.

  • Adequate, but not too much fertilizer.

  • Annual soil samples.

  • Preventing pod rot disease with Ridomil Gold.

  • Limited cultivation, only twice on reduced till peanuts.

  • Efficient harvest.

Like most farmers, Reimer is watching Congress closely this fall as legislators try to hammer out a farm bill before year-end.

“The peanut program likely will change,” he says, “but they're not through with it yet, so we don't know what the final law will be.”

Most versions of a farm bill would do away with the peanut quota support system, in favor of a market loan program similar to other program crops. That may remove some of the income stability peanut farmers have enjoyed for years.

“I hope they get something passed this year,” Reimer says. “We need to know what programs will be available for peanuts and cotton. We need to begin planning for rotation systems and determine the best acreage for each of our crops. I'm anxious to see what Congress is going to do.”

Reimer says financial planning also poses more difficulty when farmers and bankers are uncertain of government programs.

He plans no major changes in a production system that has worked well for several years. “I'll stick with reduced tillage and planting in stubble,” he says. “I may increase peanut acreage, depending on what the rotation system looks like.”

He's optimistic that prices will begin to improve. “I think cotton is about to turn around,” he says. “It's good to see signs of improvement; we grow a lot of cotton.”

rsmith@primediabusiness.com