USDA crop planting estimates came out at the end of March. Though these estimates agree there will be a decrease in acreage, there is a significant difference from state-to-state and on total decrease in acreage.

The USDA Crop Planting Intentions Report predicts a 4 percent drop in total planted acres, or 1.24 million planted acres across all peanut- states.

The biggest difference from the peanut specialists predictions come from the biggest peanut producing state, Georgia. The USDA report predicts a reduction of 4 percent. Georgia peanut Extension personnel are predicting a much larger cut due to a pricing advantage for cotton.

The USDA report also calls for a decrease of 10 percent in acres in North Carolina and Virginia, double what peanut specialist predict. As in Georgia, competition from cotton will be intense in these states, which could create a bigger reduction in acreage, depending on planting time weather for the two crops.

Regardless of which predictions are correct, there is likely to be some decrease in peanut acreage in 2011, but expect a comeback in 2012. The continued increase in demand for peanut products in the U.S. is going to keep grower prices strong, and the reduction in acreage in 2011 is likely to stabilize supply and keep prices high going into the 2012 season.

rroberson@farmpress.com