If peanut acres in 2021 go up or down, it likely won't be by much. Either way, peanut farmers, like many others across the South, could use some breaks in 2021.
"Right now, we just hope we'll start the year off better than last year without as many problems with stands as we unfortunately experienced last spring. We hope we'll see better germination and quality. It does not mean that we're going to skip out on some problems this year, but we do need a better year for certain," said Scott Monfort, University of Georgia Extension peanut agronomist.
Weather-wise, conditions this winter have treated most of the Peanut Belt better than in previous seasons, he said, and that's a good starting sign.
"It's a different situation when you look at this winter compared to some of the other ones recently. We haven't been as hot and certainly not as dry. So right now, we're starting off on the right foot," said Monfort, who spoke during the American Peanut Shellers Association's Industry Spring Conference in early March. The weather had warmed and dried off by the second week of March in much of the Southeastern and Delta regions of the Peanut Belt.
At the APSA meeting, Monfort stood in for his fellow specialists from across the peanut belt and provided the meeting with the specialists' thoughts on the coming spring planting and concerns going into it in their neck of the woods.
From Georgia, Monfort reported:
- Depending on weather and corn planting along with improved prices for other crops like cotton, peanut acres may reduce some but not significantly. His early estimate is 750,000 acres, plus or minus 5%.
- Main varieties being planted will still be GA-06G at around 85% of acres with increased interest in GA-16HO, GA-12Y and GA-18RU.
- Main concerns right now include costs of inputs and commodity prices, seed quality and seed price, tomato spotted wilt virus and other disease pressures.
- It's early, but main problems so far include wet winter and early spring not allowing field prep. How will this change acres for other rotating crops like corn? An increase in using in-furrow fertilizer in peanut is concerning. Studies consistently show this is not a good practice for growers, and Monfort recommends growers do not apply in-furrow fertilizer in peanuts. He'd like to see the seed industry get behind this.
From Florida, David Wright with University of Florida reported:
- Acreage for 2021 should be in the 170,000 range as it was in 2020. This may decrease slightly if cotton prices continue to increase.
- Main variety planted will GA-06G, along with some GA-16HO, FloRun 331, TufRunner 297, GA-12Y and GA-18RU.
- Main concern is harvest weather. Florida has had three to four years in a row that has been too dry at harvest or hit with multiple tropical storms and hurricanes.
- Main problems so far include wet soils through winter. A week or two of dry weather can solve that. The eastern part of the Panhandle has had to deal with peanut 'decline,' where fields look good until August and often fall apart the last four to six weeks before harvest.
From Alabama, Kris Balkcom with Alabama Cooperative Extension Service reported:
- Acreage not dropping much even with higher cotton prices. Growers could hold flat at 180,000 acre or not go below 175,000 acres.
- Main variety has been GA-06G but more interest this year in spreading out risk and planting more AUNPL 17, GA-16HO, GA-12Y, FloRun 331, TUF 297, TifNVHO and GA-09B in northern part of the state.
- Main concern now is just production, producing to capitalize on prices.
- Main problem so far has been wet winter and early spring and not being able to get into fields to do tillage. Just going to be pressed for time.
From South Carolina, Dan Anco with Clemson University reported:
- South Carolina may see a slight increase around 90,000 planted acres.
- Main varieties being planted are TUFRunner 297, FloRun 331, GA-06G, Bailey, Sullivan, Emery, GA-09B, Georgia-16HO.
- Growers most concerned about favorable growing and harvest conditions.
- Main problems so far are lack of vigor information on seed lots during purchase and limited seed availability for newest cultivars.
- Concerns for 2021 season include international MRL (maximum residue limits) regulations impacting crop protection usage and compatibility.
From North Carolina, David Jordan with NC State University reported:
- NC acreage should hold steady at about 110,000 acres.
- Dominant varieties to be planted will be Sullivan and Bailey and Bailey II with runners accounting for between 5% and 10% of acres.
- He hadn't seen germination numbers yet but noted NC had a tough fall with a less-than-mature crop in some cases.
- No major issues expected other than the unknown of weather. NC peanut crop is 85% rain fed.
From Virginia, Maria Balota with Virginia Tech reported:
- Planted acres will hold steady at 28,000 acres plus or minus 5%.
- Main varieties to be planted will be Bailey with some Bailey II, Emery, Sullivan, some Walton for seed increase and Wynne.
- Main concerns for growers are weather and prices, like always.
- Main problems so far have been cool, wet weather with a possibly another cool, wet may that will push planting into June.
Across the Peanut Belt, specialists peg total 2021 peanut planting at 1.607 million acres. USDA said growers planted 1.618 acres in 2020.