Bumper year for peanuts

Published 11:20 am Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Farmers harvest peanuts on O'Berry Church Road in Southampton County. ANDREW FAISON/TIDEWATER NEWS




COURTLAND—Last year’s peanut harvest in Southampton County was exceptional, according to Capron farmer M.L. Everett.

This year’s should be even better and on par with the state, which expects a record yield.

“All the farmers that I have talked to have experienced better yields than last year,” Everett said.

County Agriculture Extension Agent Chris Drake said yields have ranged from 3,800 to 5,500 pounds per acre.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services expects a harvest of 4,200 pounds per acre, up 200 pounds per acre from last month’s forecast.

A fourth-generation farmer, Everett said the contract price on peanuts ranging from $650 to $750 a ton encouraged farmers to plant more.

“We set our goals at around 3,800 to 4,000 pounds, so what we have brought in this year is above those goals,” he said.

Production across the state for the year is estimated at 84 million pounds up 37 percent from last year. Peanut farmers are expected to harvest 20,000 acres throughout Virginia in 2012.

“I suspect we’ll have some growers who will average over 5,200 pounds per acre,” said Drake. “All but a few will eclipse the benchmark 4,000 pounds per acre mark.”

Drake and Everett attribute this year’s yields to timely rainfall.

“We (farmers) feel real blessed with local weather patterns, luck and help from God,” Everett said.

“It is rare that we will have a year where all of the five major crops we grow in Southampton — corn, cotton, peanuts, soybeans and wheat — did well for most producers,” Drake added.

In the state, the cotton yield is forecast to be up 28 pounds per acre from October for a total of 988 pounds per acre. That is an increase of 312 pounds per acre from last year.

Production is expected to total 175,000 bales. Cotton growers expect to harvest 85,000 acres in 2012.

Virginia’s soybean producers expect to average 40 bushels per acre, up one bushel from the October forecast and in line with the record yield from last year. Soybean production is expected to total 23.2 million bushels from 580,000 acres.