Back in the summer, the peanut industry was facing a crisis. The extended drought had affected nearly half of the state’s peanut growers, and they were looking at a bad, perhaps disastrous, year.
But, the same September rains from Tropical Storm Lee that saved pecan growers turned the season around for peanut farmers. Instead of a bad year, the crop yield in Mississippi is expected to top all U.S. peanut-producing states.
This month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasted Mississippi’s 2011 crop yield for peanuts would be 3,600 pounds per acre, No. 1 among peanut-producing states.
And, like pecans, peanuts are fetching high prices. Increased cotton planting ate into peanut acreage, creating a tight supply.
On June 15, peanuts were bringing $949.54 per ton. Most prices currently stand at roughly $1,000 per ton.
Last October, prices ranged between $430 and $450 per ton. In April 2009, they were roughly $355 per ton.
According to the Mississippi State University Extension Service, many peanut growers signed contracts at approximately $500 per ton. So, many growers will have to wait until next year to garner the soaring prices.
Mike Howell, MSU Extension Service peanut specialist, said he is worried about spiraling input costs, including seed prices. Still, he is bully, at least short-term, on the state’s fledgling peanut industry.
“We know the honeymoon will be over one of these days, but we’re taking advantage of it while we can,” Howell said.