Peanut Profitability Awards

U.S. peanut producers faced several challenges in 2009, including a large carryover from the previous year’s crop, a salmonella outbreak, and dreadful harvest conditions. Still, growers were eyeing the second largest average yield in U.S. history, and it’s expected that there will be plenty of good nominees for the 2010 Farm Press Peanut Profitability Award.

“This awards program has set a standard of excellence during the past 11 years, and it has never been an easy honor to earn, but we’re anticipating another fine group of nominees for the 2010 awards,” says Marshall Lamb, research director for the National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Ga., and advisor for the awards program since its inception.

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 Southeast Region, including Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Mississippi; the Virginia-Carolina Region, including Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina; and the Southwest Region, including Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

The awards program has honored 10 classes of winners from throughout the U.S. Peanut Belt. Since the program’s beginning in 2000, the Peanut Profitability Awards have honored 30 deserving growers. The Farm Press Peanut Profitability Awards Program began with the first-ever Southern Peanut Growers Conference.

Winners of the 2010 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. They also will receive limited-edition signed and numbered prints from noted Southern watercolor artist Jack DeLoney.

In addition, the winners are featured in special Peanut Profitability issues of Southeast Farm Press, Southwest Farm Press and Delta Farm Press.

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 cost and price are equally important factors,” says Lamb.

The grower nomination form for the Peanut Profitability Award is very extensive, notes Lamb, and 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 entire peanut operation. “We’re not talking about small plots in select fields. Rather, we look at the overall management of 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.

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, 2010.

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.

Good crop expected despite poor harvest weather

Many areas of the Peanut Belt, especially in the lower Southeast, experienced poor harvest conditions this year, with excessive rainfall in September and October followed by a stalled tropical storm in November. Nevertheless, USDA is predicted an average yield that would be the second highest on record, behind last year’s crop.

Total production is forecast at 3.63 billion pounds, down slightly from earlier forecasts and down 30 percent from last year. Area for harvest is expected to total 1.08 million acres, down 28 percent from 2008.  Yields are expected to average 3,353 pounds per acre, down 73 pounds from the 2008 record yield of 3,426 pounds per acre.

Production in the Southeast States (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina) is expected to total 2.75 billion pounds, down 1 percent from October estimates and down 28 percent from last year. Expected area for harvest, at 825,000 acres, is down 25 percent from 2008.  

Yields in the Southeast region are expected to average 3,334 pounds per acre, 98 pounds below last year. Yields are forecast lower than earlier estimates in all Southeast States except Georgia, which remains unchanged at a record high 3,500 pounds. Harvest progress was behind average in most states in the region due to abundant rainfall and wet field conditions.

Virginia-North Carolina production is forecast at 287 million pounds, down 35 percent from 2008. Expected area for harvest, at 78,000 acres, is unchanged from the previous forecast but down 36 percent from last year. The average yield is forecast at 3,685 pounds per acre, 54 pounds higher than the 2008 average. Record-high yields are expected in both States.

As of Nov. 1, Virginia growers had harvested 93 percent of their peanut crop.  In North Carolina, however, harvest was only 80 percent complete, due to heavy rainfall and below average temperatures during October.

Southwest peanut production (New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas) is expected to total 590 million pounds, down 36 percent from 2008. Expected acreage for harvest, at 179,000, is down 36 percent from last year. Yields in the region are expected to average 3,296 pounds per acre, down 14 pounds from the previous year.

The 2010 Peanut Profitability Award Program Officials and Advisory Board

Program Coordinator

Paul L. Hollis, Editor, Southeast Farm Press
166 North Gay Street
P.O. Box 1415
Auburn, AL 36831-1415
(334) 826-7451

Program Advisor

Marshall Lamb, Research Leader
USDA National Peanut Research Laboratory
1011 Forester Drive
Dawson, GA 31740
(229) 995-7417

Advisory Board

Southeast

Nathan B. Smith, Agricultural Economist, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service
Rural Development Center
15 RDC Road
P.O. Box 1209
Tifton, GA 31794
(229) 386-3512

John Beasley, Extension Peanut Agronomist Crop and Soil Sciences Department University of Georgia
104 Research Way
P.O. Box 748
Tifton, GA 31793
(229) 386-3328

Kris Balkcom, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Wiregrass Research & Extension Station
Highway 134 East
P.O. Box 217
Headland, AL 36345
(334) 693-2010

Ken Barton, Executive Director, Florida Peanut Producers Association
2741 Penn. Ave Suite 1
Marianna FL, 32448
(850)526-2590

Mike Howell, Area Extension Agent, Mississippi State University
2315 17th Street
P.O. Box Z
Gulfport, MS 39502
(228) 865-4227

Virginia-Carolina

David Jordan, Crop Science Extension Specialist, North Carolina State University
4207 Williams Hall
Box 7620
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695
(919) 515-4068

Bob Sutter
North Carolina Peanut Growers Association
P.O. Box 8
Nashville, NC 27856-0008
(252) 459-5060

Dell Cotton
Virginia Peanut Growers Association
P.O. Box 59 1001 Campbell Ave.
Franklin, VA 23851
(804) 658-4573

Jay Chapin, Extension Peanut Specialist
Edisto Research and Education Center
64 Research Road
Blackville, S.C. 29817
(803) 284-3343

Southwest

Robbie Blount
Southwest Texas Peanut Growers Association
P.O. Box 252
Seminole, TX 79360
(915) 758-2050

Todd Baughman, Extension Specialist, Texas A&M University
P.O. Box 2159
Vernon, TX  76385
(940) 535-1484