The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) estimate of Texas peanut acreage, released June 30, indicates significantly higher plantings than most farmers, seed companies and other industry observers expected.

NASS projects Texas peanut farmers planted 185,000 acres, up from 165,000 in 2009. Early this spring farmers indicated they would hold the line on acreage or decrease slightly in favor of cotton.

Shelly Nutt, Executive Director of the Texas Peanut producers Board, says the estimate is surprising and concurred with other observers that acreage would be closer to last year’s figure.

“I had the same feeling,” she said. “And from the sheller’s comments, seed sales were flat.” She said South Texas “picked up a few acres but not enough to replace all that was lost in West Texas.

“I don’t have any idea where USDA came up with their number. I hope they’re right.”

Nationwide, peanut acreage will be up, according to USDA-NASS figures. Total area planted in peanuts is anticipated to be 1.29 million acres, up 16 percent from 2009. Area for harvest is forecast at 1.26 million acres, compared with 1.08 million acres a year ago. The report indicates increased acreage in all States except New Mexico where acreage is unchanged from 2009.

The projections show Southeast growers (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina) planted a total of 970,000 acres of peanuts, a 14 percent increase from 2009. Georgia peanut farmers planted 560,000 acres, up 10 percent from last season. Planted area in the Virginia-North Carolina region increased significantly over 2009, to 112,000 acres, up 42 percent.

Southwest peanut farmers (New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas) planted an estimated 208,000 acres, up 12 percent from the previous year.

NASS attributes the increased acreage to the anticipation of higher contract prices.

email: rsmith@farmpress.com