About 80 farmers gathered for two North Mississippi peanut field days in late summer to learn how to cash in on one of Mississippi’s increasingly popular crops.

Mississippi State University Extension Service and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station scientists gave producers research updates and introduced new field harvesting techniques.

“Mississippi producers harvested 58 million pounds of peanuts on 14,000 acres last year,” said Don Respess, Coahoma County Extension director. “Most of those acres were in the southern part of the state. Several North Mississippi producers are already growing peanuts, so we decided to host a field day near Clarksdale to introduce potential peanut producers to the crop.”

According to the USDA, Mississippi farmers increased peanut acreage to an estimated 48,000 acres in 2012.

Brothers Mark and John Agostinelli of Coahoma County welcomed visitors to their farm for the Aug. 29 field day. This year they grew about 450 acres of peanuts for the Clint Williams Peanut Co. to distribute as seed.

The Oklahoma-based company recently built barns in Clarksdale and Greenwood for peanut storage. The barns have sparked an interest in peanut production in the Mississippi Delta.

“A good portion of North Mississippi producers attending the field day are interested in growing peanuts but are not yet farming the commodity,” said Anthony Bland, Tunica County Extension director.

Field day topics included insect, weed and disease issues related to peanuts. Speakers included MSU entomologist Jeff Gore and MSU weed control specialist Tom Eubank. Both work at MSU’s Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville. MSU Extension plant pathologist Alan Henn from the university’s Starkville campus discussed major peanut diseases.

The Sept. 7 peanut harvesting workshop was held near Sardis. University of Georgia peanut specialist John Beasley led sessions on pod blasting and harvesting.

“Our first peanut harvesting field day for North Mississippi was a great success,” said Judd Gentry, Panola County Extension director. “Producers were really interested in learning how to harvest the crop. Peanuts are a good rotation with cotton and corn, are drought-tolerant and sustainable, and have attractive prices.”