• By Jennifer Dorsett •
The 2020 harvest season has wrapped for Texas peanut farmers with mixed results. Some areas of the state had good yields and good quality, while other parts of the state experienced a below-average season.
“We had such a mixed bag across the state. In West Texas, where 90% of Texas peanuts are grown, we had a severe drought and excessive heat, and the yields were reflective of that. They graded well, but the yields were down,” said Shelley Nutt, Texas Peanut Producer Board executive director. “We had people that didn’t see a drop of rain from March until harvest. We rely on irrigation to supplement our rainfall, and when there is no rainfall, it’s just too taxing on our irrigation wells. Our water quality gets worse and worse as the water gets lower. So, it just turned into a really hard, hard year in West Texas.”
In 2020, Texas farmers harvested 180,000 acres of peanuts with an average yield of 2,700 pounds per acre, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Although yields were down in West Texas, Nutt noted crop quality remained high.
“In West Texas, we grow all four types of peanuts: Virginia, Valencia, Spanish and Runners. We need those Virginia peanuts to have a really light shell, and fortunately, our crop looks good,” Nutt told the Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network.
Other regions fared better
In other parts of the state, farmers had brighter outcomes.
“Growers in the Atascosa and Frio counties area hit a home run this year,” Nutt said. “Another bright spot is the Panhandle. They caught some rain the guys in West Texas didn’t catch, so their quality was good, their yield was good.”
In Wilbarger County, where the Red River separates Texas and Oklahoma, peanut farmer Clint White had an average year.
“Overall, our peanut yields were about average,” White said. “We had a couple of farms that hadn’t been in peanuts in several years, so those yields were above average. But on 800 acres total, our average was around 3,800-4,200 pounds per acre, which is about a normal year for us.”
There were a few timely rains, but he irrigated intensely throughout August.
“We irrigated hard all the way through August, and thankfully, our water held up,” White said. “But we didn’t get too hot like they did in West Texas, where they were hurt the worst.”
Quality was good, thanks to low pest pressure.
“We didn’t really have any pest problems. Worms and grasshoppers tattered the plants up a little but didn’t hurt our yields,” he said. “Then, at the end of October, a cold front came through, and we got a half-inch or so of ice on everything. At that point, we had all the peanuts dug, and the ice covered everything completely. But thankfully, the grades weren’t affected at all by the cold weather.”
Jennifer Dorsett is field editor for the Texas Farm Bureau’s monthly newspaper, Texas Agriculture. This article originally appeared in Texas Agriculture.