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• Across the entire belt, peanut specialists estimate an acreage reduction of about 14 percent from 2010.
• The USDA Intentions Report predicts a 4 percent drop in total planted acres.
In South Carolina, peanut acreage is expected to remain around 65,000 acres, says veteran peanut specialist Jay Chapin. Again, cotton is a big factor as are grain crops which are competing for acreage in the state.
Chapin says timely rains at planting time may convince some growers to stay with peanuts or go to peanuts. Other issues, like weed management and the high cost of disease management will always be factors in how many acres of peanuts are planted, he adds.
Georgia is the epicenter for peanut production in the U.S. and peanuts could take a major hit in 2011, says veteran University of Georgia peanut specialist John Beasley. He says $600 a ton contracts helped offset the loss in acreage, but still predicts it will be 20 percent — possibly more.
“There is no getting around the competition for acreage that cotton brings in Georgia. We will likely plant 1.75-1.85 million acres of cotton in 2011. Cotton at $1.20 a pound is equal to peanuts at $717 per ton. As long growers can make more money on cotton, they are likely to plant more cotton,” Beasley explains.
In Alabama, Auburn University research agronomist Kris Balcom says fuel costs, weed management costs, and the overall high cost of peanut crop inputs, will force growers to pay special attention to planting peanuts in 2011.
Overall, Balcom says he expects growers to plant 165,000-170,000 acres, or roughly 10 percent less than last year. The big increase in peanut acreage in recent years has come in areas historically planted to cotton. As is the case across the peanut belt, competing for acreage with cotton will be tough in 2011, he says.
University of Florida Extension specialist David Wright says Florida is likely to see a reduction in acreage by about 10 percent, bringing their total peanut acres down to 130,000 acres.
Wright says growers trying to get ahead of weed problems began cultivating in March and April and with continued dry conditions that is jeopardizing peanut planting. The continuing spread of herbicide-tolerant weeds is going to be a concern for Florida growers planting peanuts in 2011, he adds.
Texas A&M Extension agronomist Todd Baughman says predicting peanut acreage is a bit dicey because of cotton and water. “We expect a 10 percent reduction in peanut acreage this year, but it could be higher,” Baughman says.
“Across most of our peanut producing areas, we are really dry going into the growing season. Low subsoil moisture tends to point to more cotton acreage. Combine that with the price of cotton, and peanut acreage could be down more than expected,” he adds.