peanut crop

High Fertilizer Prices Could Lead to Increased Peanut Acres in Georgia

Clint Thompson Georgia, Peanuts

peanut crop

By Clint Thompson

High fertilizer prices could factor in Georgia’s peanut acreage topping its 2021 total of 748,000 acres.

Industry leaders would like to see acreage decrease this season, because crop rotations are essential to peanut production. But that’s not likely to happen as cotton and corn growers may opt for more peanut acreage to avoid paying for high input costs.

“Cotton prices went 90-plus cents per pound (last year). We thought, ‘Oh yeah, we’re going to go back down to normal acres,’ which would be good for us. It’s kind of the reverse of that. We had the high prices with cotton but then come behind and all of our inputs and all of our fertility went up dramatically. Now we’re back to the same old, same old like a couple of years ago where peanuts are the only thing that pencils out,” University of Georgia Extension peanut agronomist Scott Monfort said. “Now we’re looking at either staying the same (with acres) or going up. I think we’re probably likely to go up a little bit.”

Increased Fertilizer Prices

Cotton and corn production utilizes more nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. All have experienced price increases compared to recent years, especially nitrogen. Glen Harris, University of Georgia Professor and Extension Agronomist in Environmental Soil and Fertilizer, said during Thursday’s Georgia Peanut Farm Show and Conference that nitrogen expenses were about 95 cents per pound, compared to 50 cents in 2020. Phosphorous was around 68 cents per pound, compared to 40 cents in 2020. Potassium is around 69 cents per pound, compared to 34 cents in 2020.

Peanuts are a deep-rooted legume that don’t require much fertilizer. It could entice growers to shift more acreage to peanuts regardless of rotations. Increased acres will impact the prices growers are able to obtain.

“We had some contract prices in 2021 go to $500 a ton, which is great. That is what we want to see. But with intentions of growers now saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to plant more peanuts and we’re not going down, we’re going up,’ contract prices are going to come back down to the 400s and probably the low 400s,” Monfort said. “That’s not what we want to see. We’ve got to do a better job of managing our inputs and what we spend. We can still do very well, we’ve just got to watch that.”

Georgia growers produced an average yield of 4,465 pounds per acre or 1.6. million tons last year.

If a grower plants peanuts in the same field over and over, pathogens, like molds, fungi and nematodes become problematic over time.