Peanut acreage may have reduced in 2013 but the high-quality nut being planted remains the same.
Due in large part to research conducted by University of Georgia scientists on the Tifton campus, in particular the development of the Georgia-06G variety, Georgia peanuts yielded an astounding 4,430 pounds per acre last year. Those high yields came on the heels of 2012’s state record of 4,580 per acre. The high yields were produced on 430,000 acres, down 41.5 percent from 2012.
UGA Extension peanut economist Nathan Smith attributes the high yields to a variety of factors. “I think it’s a combination of variety, management and weather that really helped us produce those second best yields,” Smith said.
Georgia-O6G is a high-yielding peanut cultivar developed in Tifton by the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The variety was released in 2006. According to Smith, Georgia-06G is the most common peanut variety produced. “Its yield potential is a lot better than what growers have grown before,” he said.
Smith said proper management played a key role as well, as farmers were able to overcome wet weather most of last summer. They were also benefited from good harvest weather, which allowed the peanut crop to be harvested in a timely fashion.
“Being able to harvest at the right time, not too early and, particularly, not too late, improves yield and quality,” Smith said.
Despite high yields being produced, peanut prices are still hovering around the $425 per ton mark, far below the $500 per ton level farmers crave and were able to achieve a couple of years ago. Much of the price decline is linked to a decline in exports to China, which is importing the bulk of its peanut crop from India.
“It would help if they were buying again this year but they aren’t right now,” Smith said. “We’re still seeing strong exports, it’s just not to China. We’re competitive with Europe, and we’re still seeing strong exports to our No. 1 customers; Canada and Mexico.”
Peanut production is supposed to be king in Southwest Georgia but prices are not living up to those lofty standards.
“We have an overabundance of peanuts so the peanut prices are not great,” said Rome Ethredge, UGA Extension agent for Seminole County. “2013 was a tough year, mostly because we had so much rain in July. It hurt our crops,” he said. “We didn’t have the top yields like we had in 2012. Prices aren’t great but if we can make top yields (in 2014), then that will help the bottom line.”
Smith expects acreage to increase this year by about 15 percent with farmers bringing peanuts back into their crop rotations.
(Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.)