growth of the peanut industry SC; production up in 2021; excellent harvest quality | Agriculture

DENISE ATTAWAY Special for The T&D

The recent 2022 South Carolina Peanut Growers Meeting brought good news for farmers:

“Last year was a good year for peanuts,” Dell Cotton of the Peanut Growers Cooperative Marketing Association told the group at Santee. “We had an above-average yield and the harvest was excellent in terms of quality.

Preliminary reports from the US Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service in Colombia show that 66,000 acres were harvested and produced 227,200,000 pounds of peanuts in the state last year. Good weather conditions for groundnuts are touted as the main reason for the increase in production.

As production was up, so were costs. Nathan Smith, a Clemson University Extension professor and director of the agribusiness program team, said those costs include paying more for inputs.

“Fuel prices rose from a year earlier and fertilizer prices doubled,” Smith said. “With these higher prices, many growers are looking to cut what they can cut to save money.”

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Crop insurance is something growers shouldn’t cut into their budgets, Smith said, adding that Clemson Extension Enterprise budgets have been updated to help growers make better decisions.

As for this year’s crop, Clemson Extension peanut specialist Dan Anco suggested several top varieties, including Runner-type peanuts, FloRun 331, TUFRunner 297 and Georgia-16HO. The main varieties of Virginia type peanuts include: Bailey, Bailey II and Walton. The Walton variety is comparable to Bailey II.

“Some seeds of the Walton variety should be available in 2022,” Anco said.

Despite supply chain hiccups, Anco said most fungicide products should be available this year. Regarding charcoal rot, an emerging disease of peanuts caused by the fungus Macrophomina phaseolina, Anco said growers should primarily use cultural practices rather than fungicides to control this disease.

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Other presentations included Clemson Extension precision agriculture engineer Kendall Kirk on his research into the impact of ground speed, shovel configuration and shovel sub-assemblies on peanut yields. Kirk and other researchers have found that lower ground speeds reduce losses and maximize profits. Kirk’s group recommends 2.0 mph in Virginia and 2.5 mph in runner-type peanuts. They found that yield penalties from higher speeds can be almost twice as large under severe disease conditions. Their work also demonstrated that the shovel reversal assembly, sometimes referred to as the star wheel assembly, is responsible for a huge amount of yield loss: 900 pounds per acre in a single test.

“We ran tests with and without star wheels at different ground speeds,” Kirk said. “Seventy-five percent of the losses associated with increased speed were attributed to the star wheel assembly. The results show that an improved design of the reverse assembly can undoubtedly significantly reduce the loss of yield and dramatically increase yields and profitability statewide.

Weed control can also help improve yields. Clemson Extension weed specialist Mike Marshall discussed a study using the pre-emergence herbicide Brake. Marshall said Clemson’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is working on a Section 18 application for the use of brakes in peanut that would allow its use from April through August in 2022 pending EPA approval. He also talked about using Anthem Flex systems to control Palmer Amaranth.

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“We found that using Anthem Flex pre-emergence and post-emergence worked very well in controlling Palmer’s pigweed,” Marshall said.

More information about peanuts can be found in the Peanut Money-Maker Production Guide.

Growing industry

The peanut industry in South Carolina is growing. Karl Zimmer, general manager of Douglas, Georgia, Premium Peanut LLC, was at the meeting to talk about his company’s plans to establish operations in Orangeburg County. The $64.3 million investment announced in September 2021 is expected to create 130 new jobs.

“Premium Peanut is proud of the value we’ve been able to create for over 400 grower-owners, in addition to providing quality products to customers around the world,” Zimmer said. “We are excited to expand our operations and establish our footprint in South Carolina.”

Parts of the new facility are expected to be operational this spring. Growers interested in learning more should contact the Palmetto Peanut point of purchase. Those interested in joining the Premium Peanut team should visit the company’s Careers webpage. Premium Peanut’s customers include leading national snack, candy and peanut butter manufacturers, as well as customers in over 30 countries around the world.

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South Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers said the new venture will “open more doors” for South Carolina produce.

“We are thrilled that Premium Peanut has chosen to locate in South Carolina,” Weathers said. “We are excited for the opportunity to expand peanut production in the state and welcome Premium Peanut’s investment in our state’s future.”

Weathers also encouraged South Carolina growers to apply for the South Carolina Agricultural Tax Exemption Card (SCATE) and attend the South Carolina Certified Presentation March 14-15 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

“This event will provide a great networking opportunity for producers,” Weathers said.

Activities planned for the showcase include a trade show, lunch with special guests and an update on South Carolina agriculture, as well as educational sessions. For more information, visit https://bit.ly/CSCS2022.

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In addition to these presentations, attendees also heard reports from Richard Owen of the American Peanut Council and Becky Davis, Water Resources Officer of Clemson Extension.

Denise Attaway reports in public service and agriculture at Clemson University College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences.

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