Peanut acreage in the Upper Southeast increased substantially in 2012 and growers are likely to finish up with an above average yield. Some peanut experts are predicting this to be the highest yielding peanut crop per acre in history. Others contend that estimate is a little steep.

Long-time Virginia Crop Consultant Wendell Cooper says the crop in southeast Virginia may not be as high as expected. “It will be a good crop, but I expected to see several fields top 6,000 pounds per acre, and it just isn’t happening.

“Harvested acres are looking good yield-wise, but not as good as some of us thought prior to digging,” he explains.

In both the Carolinas, peanut acreage was up significantly, and it has become nip and tuck as to which of the Carolinas will produce more peanuts.

North Carolina has traditionally been the highest production state in the V-C belt, but that may not be the case much longer.

In South Carolina, Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers says, “This year South Carolina peanut farmers planted a record 105,000 acres of peanuts. Ten years ago that number was just 10,000 acres.

“The increase is keeping inspectors and crews busy at the nine drying and buying stations across the state. On average, this year’s peanut crop is yielding nearly two tons to the acre.” 

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) hired 69 peanut inspectors to help with this season’s grading process. Each part-time employee is trained to grade the peanuts for sale, according to the United States Department of Agriculture grade standards.                  

After visiting one peanut buying station in Cameron, S.C., Commissioner Weathers notes, “The work done at this buying station and others show the emergence of peanuts in South Carolina farming. 

“The crop has real potential for further expansion of acres planted and that could lead to an even bigger economic contribution from the peanut industry.”

News from other peanut producing countries seem to indicate a similar interest in increasing peanut production, despite a worldwide over-supply.

In a recent issue of Peanut Market News, long-time peanut marketing guru Tyron Spearman says, “The Cereals Board of Cordoba, Argentina has reported that peanut planting intensions across Cordoba, La Pampa and San Luis, the major peanut growing areas in Argentina, are expected to increase acreage about 7.6 percent, to 386,560 hectares. 

“Officials report that European buyers were a bit surprised with the U.S. bumper crop that has pushed prices lower. 

“Most of the peanut planted area in Argentina is managed by shellers under lease contracts from farmers and plantings could change. One explained that the land was leased from farmers when prices for peanuts were higher.” 

Spearman also notes that Argentina has invested in more warehouses, including cool storage, so peanuts will be available year-round instead of just in-season.  Instead of a springtime supply of peanuts from the Southern Hemisphere, it appears peanut buyers will have access to the crop during peak production times in the U.S.

The over-supply problem with peanuts now and likely in the near future is clear. What to do with all these peanuts is not so clear.