Three of the world’s best peanut producers representing each U.S. growing region were honored during the 2010 Farm Press Peanut Profitability Awards Presentation, held July 24 in Panama City, Fla., as part of the Southern Peanut Growers Conference.

The 11th class of award winners all produced outstanding yields, says Marshall Lamb, research director for the National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Ga., and advisor for the program. “In some years, our honorees win this award on the basis of cost of production. In other years, they win it because of their ability to market. This year, they all won their respective awards on the yield side, and their extremely high yields helped them edge out the other nominees,” says Lamb.

Recipients of this year’s awards include: Southwest Region — Rusty Strickland, Wellington, Texas; Lower Southeast Region — Al Sudderth, Dawson, Ga.; and Upper Southeast Region — Richard Rentz, Branchville, S.C.

This year’s winners and those from past years can attest to the fact that being considered for the Peanut Profitability Award is no small feat, says Lamb. “We require our nominees to complete a fairly lengthy form, and now and then I get feedback that it might be too lengthy. But we think it’s important to get all of the information, because we look at the peanut production enterprise for the entire farm, and by doing so, we take into account irrigated and non-irrigated yields, if they have both,” he says.

Lamb and the staff at the peanut lab also look at price, and not only the estimated contract price.

“This year, some of our winners had grades in the upper 70s and even low 80s, and that had a tremendous impact on the price they received for their peanuts. We take serious account of the market side as well, and then we bring into play the cost, looking at variable costs — which are out-of-pocket, cash expenses — for irrigated and non-irrigated production.

“We also look at fixed costs on the equipment side, and how growers manage their equipment costs. This year’s winners were very balanced on the fixed-cost side. In the past, we’ve seen two nominees who were very close, with the difference being how well they managed their equipment costs. Each of our winners this year did a very good job in that area,” he says.

The goal of Peanut Profitability, says Lamb, is to find the producer who has the lowest per-unit cost of production. “We don’t just look at plots or certain plots or farms in your operation. We look at the entire peanut farming operation to determine our winners.”

During a question-and-answer session following the awards presentation, this year’s Peanut Profitability honorees were asked about the biggest obstacles they face today and into the future as they work to maintain their yields and profitability.