U.S. peanut production for 2010 is forecast at 4.04 billion pounds or 2,020,400 tons, up 10 percent from last year, according to the season’s first yield estimate for spring-planted crops from USDA.

Area for harvest is expected to total 1.26 million acres, unchanged from earlier estimates, but up 17 percent from 2009. Yields are expected to average 3,204 pounds per acre, down 208 pounds from last year. Planted area, at 1.29 million acres, is unchanged from the June estimate.

Production in the Southeast states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina, is expected to total 3.02 billion pounds, up 8 percent from last year’s production. Yields in the region are expected to average 3,182 pounds per acre, 191 pounds below last year’s average yield.

All states in the Southeast are expecting an increase in production from last year.

Yields, on the other hand, are expected to decrease in all states except Mississippi and South Carolina due to above-normal temperatures and lack of rainfall. By Aug. 1, peanuts pegging was ahead of the five-year average in all states in the region except Florida, where pegging, at 80 percent, was 10 percentage points behind the five-year average.

Virginia-North Carolina production is forecast at 319 million pounds, up 11 percent from 2009. The average yield is forecast at 2,877 pounds per acre, down 823 pounds from the previous year. North Carolina’s forecasted yield of 3,000 pounds per acre is down 700 pounds from 2009 and the Virginia forecast of 2,200 pounds per acre is down 1,500 pounds from last year. Hot, dry weather conditions this summer have resulted in lower yields in the region.

As of Aug. 1, 32 percent of the crop in North Carolina and Virginia was rated in good to excellent condition, compared with 70 and 89 percent, respectively, at the same time last year.

Southwest peanut production, including New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, is expected to total 705 million pounds, up 16 percent from last year. Yields in the region are expected to average 3,490 pounds per acre, up 21 pounds from the previous year. Expected yields are up from last year in New Mexico and Oklahoma and are unchanged in Texas.

Peanuts pegging in New Mexico and Oklahoma, at 60 percent and 89 percent, respectively, lagged behind the five-year average, whereas in Texas, pegging exceeded the five-year average by one percentage point.

e-mail: phollis@farmpress.com