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Georgia peanut crop experiencing good year

Peanut economists expect Georgia peanut production to hit close to a two tons per acre

This year’s peanut yield may not reach last year’s record-settling levels, but it is higher than some experts predicted earlier in the growing season. (Special Photo: Clint Thompson)

This year’s peanut yield may not reach last year’s record-settling levels, but it is higher than some experts predicted earlier in the growing season. (Special Photo: Clint Thompson)

TIFTON — Georgia’s peanut crop this year may not compare to 2012, but it’s still proving to be a good year. Some 430,000 acres were grown at what University of Georgia experts predict to be close to 4,000 pounds per acre.

“My guess is the price situation will be near the same next year as it was this year,” said Nathan Smith, a UGA Extension agricultural economist based on the Tifton campus. “We’re looking at another good peanut production year in 2013.”

What will the peanut crop in Georgia look like in 2014? According to Smith, Georgia farmers will grow a few more acres next year.

Peanut acreage throughout the state was scaled back considerably this year following 2012’s record-breaking season and an increased value in other crops such as corn and cotton. Peanut acreage throughout thestate decreased from 735,000 in 2012 to 430,000 this year.

“When you looked at the prices for corn, $7 corn, in that range, you had cotton in the 80 cents range, particularly late … peanuts contracts were on a limited basis at around $450 a ton. That just wasn’t enough to entice growers to plant peanuts,” Smith said.

Smith, who will speak about peanut production during the Ag Forecast set for Tifton on Jan. 29 and Bainbridge on Jan. 30, believes peanut prices have stabilized after what was being offered during the spring.

“Prices are not as good as hoped, but probably not as bad as feared,” said Smith, who added prices are hovering around $475 to $500 per ton but are not expected to exceed $500 anytime soon.

“When you look at peanuts being a rotational crop, generally growers would plant their peanut acres for their rotation and then plant the rest, particularly when we were under the quota program. But now they respond to markets. We’re in that boom-bust cycle. Every three or four years we bust the market and then take two or three years to recover,” Smith said.

That’s what happened in 2012 when peanut stocks were dangerously low, he said. “We were looking at having to ration. The peanuts that were available in the market ended up getting really high prices at the end of 2011,” Smith said.

He believes peanut acreage will increase next year by as much as 15 percent. Much will depend on other crops’ value. Corn is expected to drop next year, perhaps, enticing farmers to grow more peanuts.

To hear UGA agricultural economists expectations for 2014, attend one of six Ag Forecast events slated for across the state in January. For more information, see www. caes.uga.edu/events/agforecast/.

Clint Thompson is public relations coordinator for the University of Georgia College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Tifton.