Price will be the major determinant of how many acres Mississippi peanut producers plant this year, says Mike Howell, Mississippi State University Extension peanut specialist at Poplarville.

“That’s a big question right now, and nobody has any real insight,” he said at the annual convention of the Mississippi Agricultural Consultants Association.“Corn prices are going up, soybean prices are going up, cotton prices are going up — everything is moving higher, except peanuts.

There was an initial contract offering of about $550 per ton for 2011 production, and a few growers signed up part of their acres, but overall there has been very little activity. Most growers at that time were looking to contract in the $600 range.

“Right now, no contracts are available. Most economists are expecting there will be an offer soon, but nobody knows what it will be.”

The main reason for the delay in offering contracts, Howell says, is that the industry is trying analyze the carryover situation.

“At present, we have about 600,000 pounds in carryover, and the industry needs about 500,000 pounds. The problem, though, is that about half of the carryover is not edible peanuts. There were severe problems with aflatoxin last year, particularly in Alabama and Georgia last year. So, if we cut the 600,000 figure by about 50 percent, that puts us below where the industry needs to be with carryover.