It’s only been about 10 years that peanut production in South Carolina has had much traction, and Landy Weathers, of Circle W Farms, near Bowman South Carolina explains some of the history of peanut production in the Palmetto state:
“When the farm bill came out and did away with the support program for peanuts, and at that time there was a very small number of acres in SC being planted. That changed a lot of things in NC and VA, and I think a lot of them backed off so the peanut processors had to come elsewhere. And it also came on the tail end of relatively bad cotton years so they were looking for something to diversify into.”
Weathers farmed 500 acres of peanuts this year, 20% runners, 80% Virginia, but doesn’t anticipate quite that many acres in 2013:
“Last year we were in the 400 range, this year we went up to 500 because the price structure was attractive. Next year there is some gloom and doom with price projections. If I had to say today, we probably wont be anywhere near the acres that we were in this past year.”
As far as planting dates, Weathers explains that they got started on time, but finished late:
“We have always been told the ideal date to plant peanuts is May 15th, and we started on May 7 and 8th, and finished the last week of May. We planted double cropped behind wheat which put us a little later than we would normally be, but its irrigated land and worked out well for us.”
Speaking of irrigation, Weathers discusses the difference in their irrigated versus non-irrigated peanuts:
“We were very fortunate with timely rain and I didn’t see any appreciable difference.”
About one-third of the Weathers’ 500 peanut acres were irrigated this year. As far as yields, they were more than respectable:
“We plant thirty inch peanuts where most people plant 38 inch peanuts. We do that because when we started out in 2003, everything we did was thirty inches, like corn and soybeans, and we didn’t want to have to go with double equipment. The majority that stay on 38 inch, they were all planting cotton. I think doing thirty hurts us a little on yield but this year we were in the two ton range. The runners will be a little bit better.”
We’ll be talking to Landy Weathers again in a few weeks about his results of planting corn behind corn on some irrigated acres.
For more on our harvest series click here.