By Sarah Meyer: PNT Staff Writer
This summer’s weather has had an effect on the peanut crop, area farmers and processors say, but the warm, dry weather now is perfect for harvesting the crop.
Hot winds and lack of rain early in the season and then rain when the crop was mature, as opposed to heat, affected the peanuts, said Jimmie Shearer, president and CEO of Sunland Peanuts.
Late in the season, after some farmers had dug up their peanuts but not yet threshed them, a substantial amount of rain fell, according to Shearer.
“Rain stained a lot of them, but they’re still good,” Wayne Baker of Wayne Baker Farms said.
“The rain-darkened hulls don’t look as good,” Roosevelt County farmer Richard Robbins said.
Now the weather is dry and warm, which is just what farmers need when harvesting peanuts.
Baker, who plans to start harvesting today, said he will let his peanuts dry in the field to save money on drying them mechanically.
“We couldn’t have better harvest weather than this right here,” said Robbins, who has been harvesting for five days and has about five days to go.
This year’s peanut crop isn’t quite as good as last year, but still acceptable, growers and processors said.
“Last year, yields and grades were higher,” Shearer said.
According to New Mexico Department of Agriculture statistics, Roosevelt County farmers planted 5,700 acres of peanuts in 2007; they planted 17,000 acres of peanuts in 2000.
Farmers have attributed the decline in peanut acreage to the growth of dairies in the area and an increase in acreage in West Texas.