Despite high prices and early contract offers, peanut specialists around the peanut belt contend acres will still be down slightly in 2011.

In the Southeast, Georgia is expecting the biggest loss in acreage, with a 20 percent cut expected. Alabama and Florida are each looking at a 10 percent reduction.

In the Virginia-Carolina belt, both Virginia and South Carolina are looking at about the same acreage as 2010 and North Carolina is looking at a 5 percent cut.

In Mississippi, where acreage had been on the steady increase, a 20 percent cut in acreage is anticipated.

In the Southwest, Texas and New Mexico are looking for 10 percent reductions in acres and Oklahoma is expected to remain the same as 2010.

Across the entire belt, peanut specialists in each state estimate a reduction of about 14 percent from 2010, or a planted acreage total of about 1,111,000 acres.

Despite the reduction in acres, the peanut industry could get a needed boost from lowering carryover. If producers top 3,000 pounds per acre across the belt, they will produce a crop in 1.75 to 1.85 million ton range that would likely keep prices good for growers for the 2012 season.

Virginia-Carolina

In Virginia, Virginia Tech plant pathologist and long-time peanut researcher Pat Phipps says the state will likely remain around 18,000 acres in 2011. Drought dogged peanut production in 2010 and many growers just can’t find the incentive to plant more peanuts.

Government regulations on the use of Vapam, which is critical for Virginia growers who have a history of CBR on their farms, and the potential loss of Temik, are key factors that will limit production in 2011, Phipps says.

North Carolina State peanut specialist David Jordan says acreage in the Tar Heel state will likely continue to slide in 2011. He is expecting a minor reduction of five percent or so, but notes that could be higher, depending on how much cotton is planted is some of the key peanut producing counties.

Weed control, with the ever-increasing number of acres affected by herbicide tolerant pigweed, and managing diseases in peanut fields grown behind soybeans, are major issues that could further reduce acreage in North Carolina, Jordan says.