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By Ryan McGeeney U of A System Division of AgricultureApril 14, 2017
(705 words) (This story is available for download as a MS Word document here.)
LITTLE ROCK — As peanut market prices continue to offer a reliable toehold for Arkansas
growers struggling against depressed commodity prices, acreage for the sandy-soiled
legume continues to expand incrementally one season to the next.
According to agronomists with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
and reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics
Service, Arkansas growers are expected to plant about 25,000 acres of peanuts over
the next few weeks. While neighbors such as Georgia and Texas — two of the nation’s
largest peanut producers, with more than 1 million peanut acres between them — might
not notice such an increase, for Arkansas, it represents exponential growth over the
past decade (in 2010, for example, Arkansas growers planted about 560 acres of peanuts).
Scott Stiles, an economist with the Division of Agriculture, estimated total costs
per acre, which include both fixed and variable input costs, at about $625 for acre.
The average yield for Arkansas peanuts in 2016 was about 2.4 tons per acre, with prices
averaging $372 per ton, or about $893 per acre.
Travis Faske, plant pathologist and interim peanut agronomist for the Division of
Agriculture, said Arkansas peanut growers are enjoying higher yields than some of
the traditional peanut strongholds across the country, due in part to its novel aspect
in the state.
“In the last two years, our average yield per acre has been higher than many other
states,” Faske said. “We have virgin ground, where we haven’t had peanut production
before. If you go into a field that’s had cotton for 40 years and you plant peanuts
for the first time, the yields are often higher. You don’t have the severity of diseases
to deal with.
“Oftentimes, yields are higher at first, and then level out over time, depending on
production,” he said. “The other advantage we have is that most of our peanuts are
irrigated — and we have plenty of water to irrigate with, and that also helps.”
Faske said peanut growers in the state — most of whom are concentrated in the northeast
Delta counties such as Randolph, Craighead, Mississippi and Lawrence counties — typically
face challenges similar to those found in other row crops.
“It’s usually weeds first, then insects and disease,” Faske said. “But with peanuts,
disease supersedes the insect pressure.”
As with other crops, Arkansas peanut growers can expect to encounter their share of
Palmer amaranth (commonly known as pigweed), as well as some field bindweed — which,
as the name implies, tends to wrap the roots of neighboring plants together.
A new issue Arkansas growers dealt with in 2016 was pod rot, which often occurs in
dryland corners and areas where plants remain saturated for an extended period of
time near or during harvest.
“Peanuts aren’t built like rice,” Faske said. “They’re not meant to sit in water for
a long time. They want well-drained soil, so that pods aren’t sitting in wet soils
for long periods of time.”
Randolph County Cooperative Extension Service chair Mike Andrews said that although
peanut growers in his county enjoyed dry weather for harvest last October, the substantial
summer rains that cost the state approximately $50 million in crop losses did affect
the overall yield and quality of the final peanut crop to a small degree.
“We received 14-16 inches in just few days in the middle of August,” Andrews said.
“Peanuts need a small amount of water, in a timely fashion, and we got way too much
water, all at once. It hurt the low ends of fields, and the yields. The quality was
down by at least a couple of grades.”
Faske said that generally, about 40 percent of pesticides sprayed on peanuts are fungicides
— far higher than in other major Arkansas row crops.
“For our growers, the main disease pressure is southern blight, although most of our
growers don’t see the same severity that growers in the southeast deal with, where
they’ve had a long history of peanut production,” he said. “There’s also a fungus
called Sclerotium rolfsii, which can be a problem in some fields. That’s what most of the growers are treating
To learn more about peanuts or other row crops in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative
Extension Service agent, or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex,
gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital
or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
# # #
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org