South Carolina Peanuts: Higher Yields Outpacing Demand

Photo: Clemson University

The United States peanut market will remain in a holding pattern if producers don’t adjust to increasing yields, said experts at the 40thAnnual South Carolina Peanut Growers’ Meeting.

Peanut production increased 39 percent, but demand only increased 10 percent from 2012 to 2018.

“We’ve had great peanut production, but if demand for peanuts can’t keep pace, they’re going to sit in storage,” said Nathan Smith, Clemson ag economist housed at the Sandhill Research and Education Center in Columbia.

Smith said South Carolina peanut growers can use Enterprise Budgets developed by the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service to determine what adjustments can be made on individual farms. Budgets for peanut crops are found here.

“Growers should only use these budgets as general guidelines,” Smith said. “Budgets should be developed for each farm based on that farm’s specific situation.”

Exports and cotton prices will play major roles in how the market responds.

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“We need to adjust,” said Dell Cotton, manager of the Peanut Growers Cooperative Marketing Association. “We need our exports to China to increase. We need the China/U.S. trade situation to become positive. We need consumption to increase. We need cotton prices to become stronger. We need to adjust our acres to reflect the increase in yields.”

The excess supply of peanuts dates back to 2017 when U.S. producers reported an excellent crop. Statistics from the United States Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Statistics Services show in 2017, South Carolina peanut growers harvested 118,000 acres of the 122,000 acres of peanuts planted in the state in 2017. The yield was reported at 4,000 pounds per acre.

In 2018, USDA-NASS statistics show South Carolina growers harvested 82,000 of the 87,000 acres planted in peanuts. Yields were about 3,500 pounds per acre for 2018.

The new Farm Bill includes mandatory funding for the promotion of U.S. agricultural exports through programs such as the market access program and the foreign market development program, which might help exports.

Improvements to technology is another step South Carolina is taking to help the state’s growers compete in today’s economy. South Carolina Department of Agriculture is South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers said a program is being put together that will house all agriculture data in one place.

“We are putting an emphasis on economic development,” Weathers said. “I am excited about the different programs we have going on right now. Our goal is to position agriculture in an aggressive fashion so that everyone in South Carolina benefits from this valuable resource.”

Clemson researchers are providing South Carolina growers with information designed to help them grow and manage their crops. Kendall Kirk, a precision agriculture engineer at Clemson’s Edisto Research and Education Center, said several tools are available, including an online conveyor speed calculator and a peanut yield calculator, as well as information related to soil drainage, suitable rotation crops, proper watering, good harvest weather, timely management operations and more.

To keep peanut crops healthy, Clemson Extension peanut specialist Dan Anco recommends using inoculants on all acres saying inoculants are “a good insurance policy.” New fungicides are coming including Lucento, Indiflin and Revysol. Another fungicide coming soon is Provost Silver. Anco said this fungicide has the same active ingredients found in Provost Opti but at higher effective levels as found in Prosaro. Fungicide Miravis was released in 2018 to treat residual leaf spot.


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