Fewer planted acres, summer drought and late-season rains caused a significant drop in peanut production around the state, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.
Dr. Emi Kimura, AgriLife Extension statewide peanut specialist, Vernon, said planted peanut acres dropped to 155,000 acres from 275,000 acres in 2017, a 43 percent reduction.
Planting was delayed due to hot, dry conditions, and heat stress contributed to lower production levels throughout much of the growing season, Kimura said.
Continuous rains started in September and have delayed harvest, she said. Rain and excessively wet conditions on peanuts and in windrows has reduced harvest efficiency and created quality issues.
Integrity of pegs weakens in the wet conditions, which increases harvest losses, she said. Also, wet peanut vines are not harvested easily.
“It was very dry early and has been very wet late,” she said. “The rains came too late to really help the plants produce peanuts. Irrigation was limited, and peanuts are a high water-use plant, so that contributed to below-average production. Wet conditions have also hampered harvests and reduced yields and quality.”
Kimura said U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts estimated per-acre yields for Texas would be 6 percent lower, or 3,100 pounds per acre, compared to 3,300 pounds per acre for average years.
Harvest was 50-55 percent complete before the Thanksgiving holiday, Kimura said, but producers took advantage of dry, sunny conditions and should now be 70-75 percent complete.
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“Harvesting has been really difficult for producers in the 2018 season with limited harvest windows between wet conditions and freezing weather,” she said.
Producers faced typical disease pressure including pod rot, she said. Potential disease problems may be found among in-shell market-types, such as Virginias, if they are in windrows under excessively wet conditions. Prolonged wet conditions in the windrow may change the brightness of the hull.
“I’ve not heard of any excessive disease issues from producers,” she said. “Producers faced several challenges this year, but disease pressure was typical.”
Kimura said data from AgriLife Extension peanut variety trials around the state were beginning to come in. She said the data is available to producers seeking varieties that perform well and are drought, disease and pest tolerant. More information can be found here.
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
CENTRAL: Conditions dried enough for harvest to resume at full speed. Weather was windy and temperatures were cooler. Cotton, peanut and pecan producers were harvesting around the clock. Small-grain planting also resumed and was finally nearing completion though some fields were still too damp to plant. Hay was baled.
Livestock were doing well on pasture with supplemental feed. Freezing temperatures pushed pastures toward dormancy. Producers harvested remaining cotton. Nearly all counties reported good soil moisture. The vast majority of counties reported good crop, rangeland and pasture conditions.
ROLLING PLAINS: Cool, dry conditions were favorable for producers harvesting cotton, but crop conditions were fair to poor. Wheat producers returned to fields to replant flooded acres. Other wheat acres emerged. Some older wheat was in good condition and beginning to be grazed.
COASTAL BEND: Soil moisture was excessive and continued to delay field work. Some tillage was done, but on limited locations. Some cotton was still in fields. Frost damaged some ratoon crop rice. Rice farmers attempted to harvest the ratoon crop, but there was limited storage available at rice drying and rice warehouse facilities. Rangeland and pasture conditions were good, but the freeze stopped growth.
Late hay cutting attempts were made with little to no success. Hay producers produced only 50 percent of their normal crop due to summer drought and late-season rainfall. Livestock were doing well. Some supplemental hay feeding began due to early frost. Pecan harvest was still delayed due to wet conditions.
EAST: Ponds and creeks were full in Cherokee and Marion counties. Freezing temperatures caused pastures to go dormant and quality to drop drastically in Marion, Panola, Smith and Wood counties. Producers in Houston, Marion and Smith counties continued to feed hay to livestock. Producers in Cherokee and Polk counties were shipping in hay from as far away as Mississippi and Alabama. Harrison, Houston and Panola county producers were forced to bale dormant forages.
Jasper, Marion and Wood county winter pastures established with good growth. Soil in most of Harrison and Houston counties dried enough to allow access for tractors and baling equipment. Pasture and rangeland conditions were poor in Harrison, Marion and Panola counties. All other counties reported fair pasture and rangeland conditions. Fall gardens in Marion County were doing well.
Subsoil conditions were surplus in Houston and Polk counties. Subsoil conditions were adequate in all other counties. Topsoil conditions were also at a surplus in Houston and Polk counties. All other counties reported adequate topsoil conditions. Wild pig control was underway in Upshur County.
SOUTH PLAINS: Subsoil and topsoil moisture remained adequate. Cotton harvest continued with good yields reported. Pasture, rangeland and winter wheat improved with moisture. Cattle remained in good condition.
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PANHANDLE: Conditions were windy and dry for most of the district. Temperatures were near average. Harvests continued. Producers were back in fields trying to tie up loose ends with all the crops. Corn harvest was almost wrapped up. Grain sorghum was also still being harvested with seed sorghums coming out before commercial crops. Cotton harvest was very slow this year, with 10 percent or less stripped. Winter wheat was still being planted behind corn, and late-planted wheat was slow to emerge with recent weather. Rangeland conditions were mostly good.
NORTH: No rain was reported. Soil moisture was mostly adequate. Fields were finally dry enough to plow and allow a final cutting of hay. Cotton harvest resumed. Some farmers began to plant wheat and oats, but the process was slow due to wet conditions. Livestock were in good condition.
FAR WEST: Conditions were warm and dry with highs in the upper 70s and lows in the lower 30s. Cotton was still in many fields, but producers were stripping. Fire danger increased. Pecan trees were dropping nuts. Ranchers were preparing for colder temperatures. A few counties experienced a hard freeze that caused everything to stop growing. Producers continued to feed livestock and wildlife
WEST CENTRAL: Dry, mild conditions allowed pastures to dry and become more accessible. Wheat pastures responded and were looking good with some already providing grazing. Many producers who couldn’t access wet hay fields chose to cut and bale despite a hard freeze. Livestock remained in fair to good condition and stock tanks were full.
Demand at cattle markets was strong and buyer activity was very good. Stocker and feeder steers sold steady. Feeder heifers were also steady. Stocker heifers were $5 higher per hundredweight. Packer cows were $3 to $5 higher per hundredweight, and bulls were $2 higher.
SOUTHEAST: Topsoil moisture conditions were beginning to dry. However, conditions were still excessively wet. Some pasture conditions allowed equipment access to fertilize, but for the most part pastures were still too wet. Sunshine was in the forecast. Most of the ratoon crop rice was harvested. The district was very short on hay supplies. Livestock were in good condition going into winter. Rangeland and pasture were excellent to very poor with good ratings being most common. Soil moisture levels were adequate to surplus with adequate being most common.
SOUTHWEST: Temperatures were cooler with little to no rain. Some counties needed more rain, while others were hoping to dry out following recent rains. Some counties experienced the first frost of the season. Some pecan harvest was negatively impacted by wet soil, including the sprouting of some pecans. Livestock and wildlife were in fair condition.
SOUTH: Conditions were cool to cold with mild days and short to adequate soil moisture levels. Drizzling rain was reported in Frio County. Kleberg and Kennedy counties reported half an inch of rain. Forage producers cut their last little bit of hay. Peanut harvest was in full swing. Beef cattle producers increased feeding hay and supplemental protein. Wheat and oat planting was completed, and a majority of fields emerged.
Pasture and rangeland conditions continued to decrease due to a recent hard freeze. Native rangelands and pastures continued to provide adequate forage for livestock in some areas. Zapata County reported improved pasture conditions. Body conditions scores on cattle remained good overall. Coastal Bermuda grass was already dormant.
Zavala County reported cooler conditions provided excellent growing conditions for spinach and cabbage. Some supplemental water applications were made to spinach, onions, cabbage and carrots. Baby-leaf spinach harvest was expected to begin soon. In Hidalgo County, harvest of citrus, vegetables and sugarcane continued.