peanut crop

New Data Confirms Peanuts are More Water Efficient than Ever

Dan Peanuts

peanuts
Image courtesy of National Peanut Board

The water footprint of peanuts has been relatively small for decades, but updated data shows the industry has improved water efficiency by nearly a third.

According to the National Peanut Board (NPB), newly released data shows 3.2 gallons of water is used to produce one ounce of shelled peanuts. Water usage for major tree nuts has also improved but remains higher than peanuts. Almonds use 28.7 gallons; pistachios use 23.6 gallons; and walnuts use 26.7 gallons of water to grow a one ounce serving.

In the latest analysis, researchers used updated and “state-level input data such as harvested area, production, yield and irrigated area,” said Dr. Mesfin Mekonnen, assistant professor, Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alabama. “The use of updated and state-level data, particularly yield data, has improved the estimates.”

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“Production research efforts through the National Peanut Board, state associations and the Peanut Research Foundation have led to significant improvements in yields over the past decade,” said NPB President and CEO Bob Parker. “Peanut farmers today are producing about 50% more peanuts with fewer inputs, including irrigation, than they were consistently 10 years ago.”

Since 2001, the NPB has allocated more than $38.5 million to production research projects including to improve water efficiency, technology and more. These advancements as well as continued collaboration and efforts across the peanut industry allows growers to meet the various needs of consumers.

Increased production and increased demand have led to two consecutive years of record peanut per capita consumption levels, reaching an all-time high of 7.9 pounds in 2021.