As the Farm Press Peanut Profitability Awards program prepares to evaluate nominations for its 13th class of winners, organizers of the program have been sifting through mounds of data from previous honorees to arrive at a “Top 10 Keys to Peanut Profitability.”

This list of winning production practices will be presented in descending order, ending with the No. 1 Key to Peanut Profitability. “We looked at a lot of information in deciding on the Top 10 Keys,” says Marshall Lamb, research director for the National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Ga., and advisor for the awards program since its inception.

“It has really been interesting to look at this data set and to see how producers have evolved along with the program.”

The Peanut Profitability Awards are based on production efficiency, honoring those growers who produce the highest yields at the lowest cost per acre.

Awards are presented to growers from the Lower Southeast, including Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Mississippi; the Upper Southeast, including Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina; and the Southwest, including Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

The awards program is based on a producer’s entire peanut operation rather than small plots in selected fields. A growers’ overall management is considered, including yields, costs and marketing management for the entire farm.

Lamb says the program is more relevant today than it has ever been.

“Over the 13-year history of the program, the peanut industry has really impressively turned into a high-tech business. This program has effectively trekked the evolution of the industry over the past 13 years.

“We’re dealing with farmers now who rely on smartphone and satellite technology, in addition to some of the best genetics, pesticides and other management technologies we’ve ever had available to us. It’s really interesting to look at this data set and see how peanut production has evolved over the years,” he says.

Lamb, who was instrumental in creating the criteria for the awards program, designed the nomination form used by growers in determining production efficiency.

“While achieving consistently high yields and grades is important, it’s only part of the equation to maximizing profits. The elements of production costs and price are equally important factors,” he says.

The grower nomination form for the Peanut Profitability Award is very extensive, considering both fixed and variable costs.