The buzzword in Arkansas in early 2012 is “peanuts.” Producers want to know more about adding this potential crop to their mix and have turned out in good numbers to learn all they can.
In Lawrence County, Ark., Extension staff chair, Herb Ginn, says peanuts will be produced on more marginal ground where rice has been previously grown.
Adequate Water Available
“Rice has been very volatile more recently, so producers have been looking to try something different on the sandy soil and in their rotations with corn, milo or wheat,” he says.
“We started out about two years ago with 600 acres, last year we had about 2,500 acres and this year we are looking at about 5,000 acres.”
What is available in counties such as Lawrence and Randolph and in fields where rice was produced is water.
“Our producers are set up to furrow irrigate, and some have center pivots,” Ginn says. “It will take some time to learn when to irrigate peanuts, but that will come in time.”
Scott Monfort, South Carolina’s Extension peanut specialist who previously served as Extension plant pathologist in Arkansas, spoke at a peanut production meeting in Poca-hontas, Ark., in late January, and says there was a lot of interest in growing peanuts with producers representing several states, including Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee, in attendance.
“Peanuts have been grown in Arkansas before, but not at the level that they are talking about putting in this year, which could be as much as 15,000 acres,” Monfort says. “Where the peanuts are going in is on sandy soil that usually has corn, rice or soybeans, not in cotton-producing areas, but farther west.
“What’s happened is that you’ve got this swap – a downturn in peanut acres in Texas and other Southwest states because of a lack of adequate water to begin with and then this severe drought. Companies that buy peanuts from those producers have been searching for producers who have the right conditions on their farms to produce peanuts.”
Conditions Similar To Southeast
“Arkansas has plenty of water, and environmental conditions are very similar to the Southeast,” Monfort says. “Companies will put in the infrastructure needed, but it will take time to see if peanuts become a lasting row crop in the area.”
He says there will be a learning curve necessary to overcome to produce good peanuts.
“I told them, ‘You can do this, but don’t think this is a soybean crop. You can’t let it sit and wait on you. When it’s ready, you have to go get it out of the ground and field.’
“They’ve got potential, but also potential problems. They are farther north, and while I think they can get into the field in May to plant, they may have problems harvesting before a heavy frost.”
As for cotton, planted acreage in 2011 was up by 19 percent likely because of the excitement over price at the time.
However, yields were 10 percent lower than in 2010 because of late planting and cool weather toward the end of the season.
“We had rain at the end of the year and even hail on the crop,” says Tom Barber, University of Arkansas cotton Extension agronomist, who was recently awarded Cotton Extension Special-ist of the Year at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences in Orlando, Fla.
“Our crop was late because we planted it late, and with the cool weather in September, we couldn’t get a lot of the crop to mature.”
Barber says 2011 was an odd year where it was warmer in April than it was in May and cooler in September than it was in October. For 2012, Barber says he expects there to be between 600,000 and 620,000 acres of cotton in Arkansas.
“I think we’ll be five to 10 percent down, unless the price goes back up by April,” he says.
Of the mild winter, Barber says he’s a little concerned about insect pest pressure. “But we’ll deal with it like always as best we can,” he adds.
Contact Amanda Huber at (352) 486-7006 or firstname.lastname@example.org.