Peanut crop experiencing banner year in area

Published 9:26 am Wednesday, November 23, 2011

CAPRON—Capron farmer Bob Marks is pleased with his peanut production this year.

That’s because his 150 acres of peanuts are producing more than 4,000 pounds per acre, which is well above average.

“We’re having a really good year,” Marks said.

Westley Drake, who works on his family-owned Sandy Ridge Farms in Newsoms, said the peanut crop was also above average this year.

“It was a really good crop,” Drake said. “It was one of the biggest crops we’ve had in a long time.”

The recent North Carolina State University graduate said he is not sure of the total production per acre because the peanuts from their 196 acres have not all been sold yet.

Southampton County Extension Agent Chris Drake said increased rainfall in August helped the peanut crop this year.

“The rain we received from (Hurricane Irene) wreaked havoc on cotton but helped peanuts,” he said. “The way the rainfall fell, it looks like peanuts and soy beans are going to be our best crops this year.”

Chris Drake said he would not be surprised to see this year’s average production of peanuts rise to about 4,000 pounds per acre. The normal average is 3,200 pounds per acre.

“It was a really dry growing season, and we were looking at a good cotton a crop before the hurricane, but then we got a good peanut crop,” Westley Drake said.

Westley Drake said harvesting the crop was a challenge because of the moisture, noting it took a month to finish.

The price for peanuts has increased because fewer peanuts were planted. Chris Drake said the contract price for peanuts was set at around $625 per ton, but the price has increased to nearly $1,000 per ton. Less than 10 percent of Southampton County’s were not under contract.

“The vast majority is under contract,” he said. “The price will be higher next year to encourage growers to grow them.”