SC peanut acreage depends on cotton plantings

• By Denise Attaway •

south carolina peanut field

Clemson experts expect the 2020 South Carolina peanut acreage to be similar to 2019 with a possibility for some increase — photo courtesy Clemson Public Service and Agriculture

This year could be a good year for South Carolina peanut growers, or not, depending on how much cotton is planted in the state.

During the annual South Carolina Peanut Grower meeting, Clemson agricultural economist Nathan Smith said peanut expectations are that production could be up a little. But right now, the only thing certain is uncertainty.

“In peanuts, it’s a yield game,” he said. “It’s expected we’ll see similar plantings to last year with maybe some increase in South Carolina due to rotation adjustments. Cotton acreage is expected to be the same or down a little.”

Cotton and peanuts are ideal rotation crops.

Exports and cotton prices will play major roles in how the peanut market responds.

“We need to adjust,” said Dell Cotton, manager of the Peanut Growers Cooperative Marketing Association. “We need our exports to China to increase. We need the China/U.S. trade situation to become positive. We need consumption to increase. We need China to buy our peanuts.”

Bob Parker, president of the National Peanut Board, told the group prospects for peanut usage are expected to be positive in 2020. The price of cotton will be a key factor in how the peanut market fares.

“Attractive cotton prices give peanut farmers an opportunity to get their rotations back in order,” Parker said.

Parker said the National Peanut Board is working to position peanuts to meet the challenges of a growing world. He mentioned campaigns the Board has initiated including, the Spreading Good campaign. This campaign gives back to local communities by facilitating peanut-and peanut butter-based activities that trigger product donations throughout the year.

Variety choices

Clemson researchers are working to determine varieties South Carolina peanut growers can grow to help meet challenges Parker mentioned. Clemson peanut specialist Dan Anco talked about Runner and Virginia varieties he believes the state’s growers will benefit from growing.

The top Runner varieties are FloRun 331, TUFRunner 297 and Georgia 16HO. Top Virginia varieties are Bailey, Sullivan and Emery. Bailey II and Walton look very promising, although available seed is currently limited.

Walton is a high-oleic Virginia peanut coming from Virginia Tech and University of Florida. It has excellent pod yield and grade. It also has a high oleic oil chemistry that is consistent across environments. It’s hull strength holds off pods better than Bailey and Wynne.

Bailey II is another promising Virginia variety. This variety was released by North Carolina State University. It also is a high-oleic, high-yielding cultivar. It is expected to be ready by 2022.

New state ag initiative

In a report from the state capitol, South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers said peanuts are an important part of the state’s agricultural industry.

“We have developed a new initiative called ACRE,” Weather said. “This is an umbrella organization that capitalizes on opportunities in the fields of agriculture, agricultural research and entrepreneurship. This initiative will provide a unique research platform devoted to addressing challenges for industries that can provide more market opportunities to South Carolina agribusinesses and farmers.”

The idea of the South Carolina Department of Agriculture’s ACRE organization, or the Agribusiness Center for Research and Entrepreneurship, is to “take agribusiness to the next level,” Weather said. Kyle Player is executive director. They are interested in collaborating with universities, agribusiness, food processing and packing companies, farmers from all walks of life, legislators, investors, regulators, entrepreneurs, consumers and mentors. For more information, go to www.acre-sc.com.

“This was our first year to grow peanuts,” Colt Woody said. “We gave extreme attention to detail in taking care of the plants to give them what they needed, such as the proper amount of water, proper fertility, timely fungicide and insecticide applications, as well as providing a weed-free environment.

“With us being on a learning curve growing peanuts, we will again give extreme attention to all the details this year to try to match or surpass the winning crop. We try to grow our crops with a proactive approach rather than being reactive with respect to all the elements that can affect the plant growth. We are honored to be recognized for our efforts in our first year of growing peanuts.”

Denise Attaway is public information director for Clemson University. She may be reached at avaa@clemson.edu