By Clint Thompson
Peanut harvests are underway across the Southeast. Unfortunately, early returns are not looking all that promising for growers. Quality issues are widespread with the early planted crop, says University of Georgia Extension peanut agronomist Scott Monfort.
“Growers are fast at it. They’ve been digging for a couple of weeks now, and we just now have a big load of peanuts that have been harvested. That’s where a lot of people are starting to, not complain, but be worried about what’s going on, because grades and yields are down,” Monfort said. “Grades are down quite a bit. They show up good on the board and look mature and you go and get them graded, and they come back at 68 to 71 or 72. Everybody’s expecting to be way in advance of that, 75 or 76. That’s not what we’re seeing.”
Issues Impacting Quality
The quality concerns stem from the weather conditions this summer and increased tomato spotted wilt virus. Peanuts have not filled out 100% like they normally would.
“By the time we dig them, they’ve shrunk back quite a bit,” Monfort said. “I don’t want growers to think they did something wrong because they didn’t. We just went through a heck of a time with the virus. We’ve had anywhere from 10% to 80% tomato spotted wilt virus. That’s going to definitely damage and deform and cause these problems that we’re seeing. We sat back and tried to figure out, what did June do to us? At first, it looked like we were going to be okay, but it probably messed up some pollination and filling of the pods as well. That might have been why we’re only seeing one nut in some of these pods and not two.
“I hope as we get into the May 10 planted and beyond crop, that everything starts to get better. It’s a wait and see type of game right now.”