The old adage “what a difference a year makes” certainly applies to the peanut industry going into the 2010 growing season. At this time last year producers were faced with abysmal contract prices on the heels of a bumper 2008 crop, combined with salmonella contamination problems in processed peanut products.
Bob Sutter, Chief Executive Officer of NC Peanut Growers Association says indeed, the 2010 growing season is getting off to a great start. Well the intended planted acres have come out and they’re suggesting that we could see 15,000 more acres this year than we did last year. I hope that’s correct. Contract prices are up from last year, so there’s a whole lot optimism out there this year than there was last.
Sutter says the increase in acres is tied directly to contract price. Well, the contract price for Virginia’s is around the $525 a ton mark, and most people that wanted a contract this year could get one, and they signed those acres up. So, we’re looking for more acres because of that.
While 2008 is considered the benchmark high in recent history for contract price, 2010 is pretty close. Sutter says he feels that processors are contracting a bit more cautiously this year.
2008---we’re right at that level, a little bit lower. 2009-- we got hit really hard because of the oversupply from 2008, so, we have to make sure that we don’t produce too many peanuts this year to put us into an oversupply situation going into 2011.
After a cold, wet winter, we’ve hit a hot, dry spell, and the National Weather Service is reporting ever-increasing rainfall deficit numbers. Sutter says soil prep for planting is looking good, thus far.
Well in the parts of Eastern North Carolina that I see there’s still some wet fields. A lot of land preparation is going on, and there seems to be sufficient soil moisture in most of Eastern North Carolina that I see. If we don’t get anymore rain over the next month then we’ll be in bad shape, but there’s rain in the forecast for the end of this week. So, I think we’re okay on moisture. I know the weather service says that we’re in a water deficit situation, a lot of my guys don’t understand how we can be in a water deficit situation.
Overall, Sutter says 2010 is showing promise for peanut producers. We just hope to have a good crop year this year like we have had in the past two years. We had more rain in 2008 than in 2009, but the rains came at just the right time in 2008 to get that bumper crop out. So, we’re hoping for timely rains again this year and get a decent crop.
Bob Sutter, Chief Executive Officer of NC Peanut Growers Association