2011 saw peanuts, along with soybeans come out as shining stars in a pack of crops devastated by drought and wracked by a hurricane. At the end of the season, growers either without contracts, or who had yields above contracted amounts were seeing close to $1,000 a ton for their crop.
So, what’s in store for the quiet little money maker in 2012? Scott Montford, Peanut specialist with Clemson’s Edisto Research and Education Center near Blackville, South Carolina:
“The USDA figures were somewhere around 3,000 pounds, and depending the area you were in that might have been a little high because we had a few areas that were hit pretty hard. But, I would say that ton and a half was pretty close.”
Last year’s growing conditions should make for an interesting contracting period for peanuts in 2012:
“It should be. Now, it won’t be across the board like it was at the end of the season, because I think with the lack of acres in Texas, but just the lack of acres overall, you know even Georgia and some other places were down a little bit. I think that kind of spurred the amount of volatility in the market place. The end of 2011 we saw prices go anywhere from $650 to $1,050 per ton, and that price probably helped save some of our growers that didn’t get contracted. And probably some of our growers that had some irrigation it probably helped those out quite a bit if they produced more than what their contracts were for. You know, that extra price kind of helped offset the reduction in yield we had in some areas, is what I’m getting at. Will we see that kind of variability in the contracts starting at the first of this year? I’d say probably not.”
Thus far, it looks like the average contract price for peanuts in South Carolina is going to be in the $700 a ton range. As far as distribution of acres in the Palmetto state, there could be an increase of peanut acres according to Montford:
“We had a market last year where corn prices were going down, we had such a bad year in drought that the corn just did not do very well in South Carolina, tobacco didn’t do very well in South Carolina, so we have a good amount of growers that are going to reduce their acres of tobacco and corn and go into peanuts, so we think we will probably still an increase in our acres in South Carolina.”
We’ll have some grower tips from Scott Montford tomorrow in Inside Agriculture.