Unprecedented drought in Oklahoma and Texas and extreme heat and dry conditions in the Southeast made 2011 a challenging year for peanut producers, but the Peanut Profitability Award winners somehow found a way to persevere and achieve excellence on their respective farms.

“This past year was the most variable crop year we’ve seen,” says Marshall Lamb, research director for the National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Ga., and advisor for the Farm Press Peanut Profitability Awards.

Impressive yields

“But there were areas, especially in the Southeast, where growers received timely rainfall, and the result was some very impressive yields. Our award winners this year showed incredible resilience in the face of difficult conditions.”

While improved peanut varieties continue to help boost average yields, they’re not automatic, says Lamb.

“New varieties and genetics are very important and undoubtedly have contributed to our production, but our Peanut Profitability Award winners also practiced cutting-edge management techniques on their farms, and that’s why they’re being honored for their 2011 production,” he says.

Despite having two devastatingly dry years in 2010 and 2011, it looks as though peanut producers may have reached a new plateau in yields, says Lamb, with an average of about 3,300 pounds per acre during the past four years.

In the face of drought conditions, a couple of states boasted record peanut yields this past year. Florida tied its record average yield from the previous year and Mississippi had a 4,000-pound yield. Georgia’s yield was adjusted up to 3,520, with some growers reporting 6,000 and 7,000-pound yields.

The U.S. average peanut yield in 2011 was basically the same as in 2010, at 3,300 pounds per acre.