By Karl Terry
Farmers were finishing up peanut harvest early this week in eastern New Mexico as grain harvest was awaiting frost to kick the combines into high gear.
According to Jimmie Shearer at Sunland Inc. it was one of the best peanut harvests in recent memory.
“We’re just about done,” said Shearer. “It’s down to just a very few farmers left (with peanuts to harvest) and with not very many acres left.”
According to Shearer, yields have been a little above average this year and the quality has been very good, which is important since the Valencia variety grown locally are primarily grown as a niche market for roasting in the hull.
“We’ve got more bright peanuts than we’ve ever had,” said Shearer.
Peanut hulls darkened by adverse weather conditions don’t bring as good a price as bright hulls, according to peanut experts.
“We’re through now,” said Glen McAfee of Glen’s Peanuts at Arch. “We made a good crop this year — one of the best crops we’ve made in a good long while.”
McAfee said the last farm he had contracts with finished threshing Friday. He said that weather hadn’t been a big problem. He said farmers were able to monitor forecasts and not dig before predicted rain.
“They were able to get ‘em in without any weather damage,” McAfee said.
“All of our Valencias were used up last year,” said Shearer.
He said that because he sold out so easily last year, his company bought more (on contract) than they had ever bought before. He said people may have heard news that there was a big carryover in the peanut market from last year, but that wasn’t the case in the Valencia market, which was totally sold out.
Shearer says Sunland buys and processes some organic peanuts in the Spanish and runner varieties from outside the area but all of the local peanuts are of the Valencia variety. He added that Sunland also purchases some processed peanuts of other varieties from out of state for use in making peanut butter locally.
While the weather idled peanut threshers briefly in early October, Shearer said that overall the weather hadn’t been too much of a factor in this year’s harvest.
This has been one of the fastest harvests since I’ve been in business,” said Shearer. “It’s been an almost perfect harvest.”
Randy McCasland of Garvey Processing Inc. of Portales said his company had only seen three trucks with milo by Tuesday.
“We still haven’t had a killing freeze to get it started,” said McCasland. “Within 10 days of a good frost we’ll be busy.”
McCasland says he expects to receive about 120 million pounds of milo this season.
“We’re expecting a good milo harvest,” said McCasland. “It’s been a good year to grow milo.”
At Rogers Grain in Rogers manager Terry Varnell guessed that they had only received about a million pounds so far.
“Most of it’s too green and too wet,” said Varnell. “It’s making decent yields but I can’t really tell you (how good it’s going to be) because there’s not that much coming in.”