From a year of extremes in the lower Southeast to ideal conditions throughout the Virginia-Carolina and Southwest regions, the 2014 peanut crop saw a little bit of everything, says Marshall Lamb, research director for the National Peanut Research Laboratory and advisor for the Farm Press Peanut Profitability Awards.
“Lower Southeast growers saw everything devastating drought that almost eliminated some yield and quality, to some of the highest yielding and highest quality peanuts that we’ve seen, or at least similar to what we’ve seen in recent years,” says Lamb.
In many cases, it all depended on whether or not you had irrigation and how much you had, he adds. “If you were not irrigated and located in one of the dry areas, it just devastated you, and there was nothing farmers could do about it. On the other hand, the Virginia-Carolina and Southwest regions had very good rainfall this year.”
This past year clearly demonstrates that U.S. peanut growers have established a new yield plateau, says Lamb. “We’ve seen great yields the last few years with pretty good weather, and we’ll see some really high average yields this year with extremes in the weather. With the final U.S. yield just under 4,000 yields, it was an extremely good year for average yields,” he says.
In terms of the U.S. peanut market, we’re still trying to work out the excess from previous years, says Lamb.
“Essentially all of the 2013 crop has been committed and sold, and now we’re trying to get the 2014 crop processed and sold. But we’ll still be going into next year with a larger-than-average supply of peanuts. I don’t expect any spikes in the contract offers that’ll be made to producers next year. Something would have to happen in the world market to put an upward pressure on price. Unfortunately, we can say the same for all crops.”
The industry, says Lamb, is watching the possibility of peanut acreage expansion into new production areas because of the ramifications of the new Farm Bill.
“It could happen because of the generic base being flipped over to peanuts and having the potential to receive a payment on that. The potential is strong for that to happen, so we’ll just have to continue watching the situation. Mississippi is one of the states where this could occur and possibly Arkansas, where peanuts could be grown instead of cotton.”
Growers encouraged to submit nominations
Lamb encourages growers in these new production areas to submit nominations for the 2015 Farm Press Peanut Profitability Awards. With so many peanuts being grown on fresh ground, there could be some potential honorees in these areas, he says.
“I think we’ll have a good batch of nominees for 2015 because growers have become so adept at managing their peanut crops. A lot of them will be selling at lower prices. Marketing expertise definitely has given an edge to recent winners of the award.
Lamb was instrumental in developing the criteria for the awards program and has been advisor since the program’s inception. He says it’s no easy feat for growers to be nominated for and then to win the award.
“Peanut Profitability has set a standard of excellence over the years, and while it has never been an easy honor to earn, I expect another fine group of nominees in 2015.”
The Farm Press 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, Mississippi and Arkansas; the Upper Southeast, including Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina; and the Southwest, including Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
The awards program has honored 15 classes of winners from throughout the U.S. Peanut Belt. Since the program’s beginning in 2000, the Peanut Profitability Awards have honored 45 deserving growers or farms. The awards program began with the first-ever Southern Peanut Growers Conference in conjunction with the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation.
Winners of the 2015 awards will receive an expenses-paid trip for two to the Southern Peanut Growers Conference, set for July of next year in Panama City, Fla. In addition, the winners are featured in special Peanut Profitability issues of Southeast Farm Press, Southwest Farm Press and Delta Farm Press.
“While achieving consistently high yields and grades is important, it’s only part of the equation to maximizing profits. The elements of production cost and price are equally important factors in our evaluation of nominees,” says Lamb.
The grower nomination form for the Peanut Profitability Award is very extensive, notes Lamb, and it considers both fixed and variable costs.
“We’ve had nominees in this program with higher yields than most, but they did not correctly manage their cost structure. We’re looking at per-unit costs, and how effectively farmers manage their cost structures,” he says.
The awards program, he says, is based on a producer’s or a farm’s entire peanut operation. “We’re not talking about small plots in select fields, as is the case with some yield contests. Rather, we look at the overall management by these growers. This includes yields, costs and marketing management for the entire farm, and most of our winners come from sizable farms,” says Lamb.
Assisting with the awards program is an advisory board comprised of Extension peanut specialists, county agents, economists and commodity group officials from the major peanut-producing states. They help to distribute nomination forms within their respective states and educate potential nominees about the program. They also make recommendations each year on ways to improve the program and its administration.
Farm Press editors, working with Lamb, select the regional winners from the pool of state nominees. Members of the advisory board, along with Lamb, are charged with periodically reviewing the awards program to insure consistency and accuracy.
Data entered on a farmer’s nomination form, notes Lamb, should be based on an entire farm operation and not on individual farms or small plots. Actual per-unit costs and returns information will remain confidential to Lamb and his staff.
Growers may submit their nomination form directly to the National Peanut Research Laboratory, or they may submit it to their county Extension agent, peanut specialist or economist. The deadline for all nominations is April 15, 2015.
Growers can access the nomination form via the Internet at southeastfarmpress.com, southwestfarmpress.com, and deltafarmpress.com. In addition, it can be linked from various commodity group websites. To receive a hard copy of the form, call Farm Press headquarters at (662) 624-8503 or contact any member of the advisory board, shown below:
The 2015 Peanut Profitability Award Program Officials and Advisory Board
Paul L. Hollis, Editor, Southeast Farm Press
1018 Stage Road
P.O. Box 1415
Auburn, AL 36830
Marshall Lamb, Research Leader
USDA National Peanut Research Laboratory
1011 Forester Drive
Dawson, GA 31740
Nathan B. Smith, Agricultural Economist, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service
Rural Development Center
15 RDC Road
P.O. Box 1209
Tifton, GA 31794
2360 Rainwater Road
Tifton, GA 31793
Kris Balkcom, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Wiregrass Research & Extension Center
Highway 134 East
P.O. Box 217
Headland, AL 36345
Ken Barton, Executive Director, Florida Peanut Producers Association
2741 Penn. Ave Suite 1
Marianna FL 32448
Malcolm Broome, Executive Director, Mississippi Peanut Growers Association
Petal, MS 39465
David Jordan, Crop Science Extension Specialist, North Carolina State University
4207 Williams Hall
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695
North Carolina Peanut Growers Association
P.O. Box 8
Nashville, NC 27856-0008
Virginia Peanut Growers Association
P.O. Box 59 1001 Campbell Ave.
Franklin, VA 23851
Virginia Tech Tidewater AREC
6321 Holland Road
Suffolk, VA 23437
(757) 657-6450 ext. 407
Southwest Texas Peanut Growers Association
P.O. Box 252
Seminole, TX 79360
Texas AgriLife Extension Service
1102 E FM 1294
Lubbock, TX 79403
Texas Peanut Producers Board
4205 North Interstate 27
Lubbock, Texas 79403