Peanut planting in Alabama is expected to commence in the next two weeks. Another high acreage crop is expected, says Jacob Davis, Executive Director of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association.
“NASS (National Agricultural Statistics Service) is saying we’re going to have 190,000 acres in Alabama this year. That would be up substantially since we had 182,000 this previous year. Looking at where we need to be with rotation, I’ve been talking with Kris Balkcom, our Extension peanut agronomist in Alabama, and he is thinking we’re going to be closer to where we were last year,” Davis said. “He thinks we’ll be closer to the 182,000, maybe a little bit more in acres this year.”
Rotation is Key
Another year above 180,000 is a concern considering Alabama is typically between 160,000 and 170,000, according to Davis. Peanuts need to be rotated consistently to avoid the buildup of nematodes and diseases.
“Recently, in the last couple of years, we’ve had a little higher acreage. (Kris’) concern is we’re not going to be able to maintain our rotation up, unless we get more producers to farm new fields that hadn’t been farmed with peanuts in a while,” Davis said. “That’s few and far between.”
Why the Spike?
Market prices and cotton being impacted by hurricanes in recent years are reasons why peanut acreage has spiked the last two seasons.
“Cotton, unfortunately, especially in south Alabama has taken a big hit the last two years; you could even say three years in southeast Alabama because of Hurricane Michael. In looking at the last two growing seasons, those hurricanes have either blown the cotton off the stalk or caused boll lock where they couldn’t pick it with the picker or even caused a delay to get into the field where you had some boll rot. There’s been some issues with cotton in south Alabama the last few years, and I think that has been one indicator,” Davis said. “But it’s mostly been revolved around the commodity price, looking at the profitability of the crop and what it’s paying per acre. A lot of them felt like peanuts had a little better profit margin.”
With an expected increase in acres, let the planting begin!
“I expect everybody will be going full blast with planting in the next two weeks,” Davis said. “We’ve been getting a lot of rain here lately, but that seems to have dissipated the last few days. We’ve got to have some moisture all along, but I know the farmers are getting a little anxious and want to get the fields ready and planted soon.”