Farmers have been able to get back into the fields the last few days following Hurricane Matthew, and Bob Sutter, Executive Director of the North Carolina Peanut Growers says at least part of the crop is salvageable:
“You know, you always look at the silver lining, when you look past Matthew, the weather that we have had since Matthew, has been absolutely perfect and has allowed farmers to get into the fields and get peanuts out.
You know, I spoke to a farmer this morning who said, even with the weather that we’d had, he finished harvesting yesterday and almost got stuck in a couple of places, so it is slow to go away. If we’d had any water since the hurricane, it would be bad.
We’ve seen probably 25 to 30% reduction in yields, and so that’s going to be difficult for the farmer to take, because that’s where his profit is. We’re looking at an off year again, and this will be the second one in a row.”
As far as the stories that we’ve heard of peanuts piled up on the edges of fields, Sutter says those are few, but the damage is across the board:
“Yeah, it’s kind of across the board. Now, certainly there are some whole fields, very few that were flooded, flooded by a whole river or something. Now, those won’t be harvested but the other 99% have seen a yield production due to excessive rains.”
Damage is primarily nuts falling from vines both above and below ground explains Sutter:
“Yeah, many of the peanuts that were dug before the storm they sat there for a couple of weeks, and they got washed off, and they’re pretty and clean, but the vines stuck to the ground a little bit, so they had to be lifted and fluffed so the harvester could get them, and in that process you may knock off some peanuts.”
Speaking of silver linings, after two short production years, the supply of peanuts will be tight:
“The supplies will be restricted by the end of this crop year, which will be the end of June, next year. Usage continues to go up, the in-shell market good, so it’s going to lead to some tight supplies.”
Hopefully generating higher contract prices for the 2017 growing season.
Bob Sutter, Executive Director of North Carolina Peanut Growers.