In mid-February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released state-by-state crop and stock reports. This was the first new data available from the department since the 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government.
For some the numbers were better than expected, but for Arkansas producers, it only confirmed that it had been a tough year.
Travis Faske, Extension pathologist and peanut agronomist with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, said poor harvesting conditions and the abandonment of several thousand acres in peanut production led to the lower number, although the average yield “was positive, and among the best, compared to other peanut producing states.”
For Arkansas producers, as U of A’s communications services’ Ryan McGeeny wrote, it was the “harvest that never ended” leading peanut production in the state to drop about 25 percent to 2.2 million pounds.
In other states, the decrease in production was because producers reduced acreage from the beginning. South Carolina producers planted 87,000 acres of peanuts in 2018 compared to the record of 122,000 acres in 2018, said Nathan Smith, Clemson University ag economist.“The yield for peanuts across the United States is expected to average 4,066 pounds per acre. The yield for South Carolina peanuts is estimated to be 3,500 pounds per acre, down about 10 percent due to the hurricanes and rain.”
Overall, a total of 1.426 million acres were planted in peanuts across the United States in 2018, down 20 percent. While the numbers for domestic use for peanuts seems to be waning a bit, or at least not growing as quickly as it did a few years ago, economists say the key will be exports. About half of the United States peanut exports go to Canada and Mexico.
In addition to the normal “Market Watch” column from Contributing Editor, Tyron Spearman, this month’s Peanut Grower magazine has an expanded look at peanut markets for 2019.