Peanut producers optimistic about crop

Local peanut farmers are hoping for a sunny and dry September to finish off what they're predicting will be a much better harvest than last year for Roosevelt County's prized crop.

Sunland Inc. President Jimmie Shearer said last year's harvest was horrible.

File photo

New Mexico State University graduate students survey a peanut field in Curry County. Farmers predict this year's peanut harvest to have an average yield.

"We had about 90 days in a row of triple-digit weather, we had constant high winds and we had the drought," Shearer said. "It was like trying to grow a crop in a blow furnace."

This year Shearer predicts the harvest yield will be average, about 2,800 to 3,000 pounds per acre.

Last month, reports said the peanut production would be higher than average, but according to Shearer, triple-digit temperature days knocked the crop down.

Wayne Baker, president of New Mexico Peanut Growers, has similar reports to Shearer's.

Baker said yield reports looked good early, but due to a hot and dry August, he predicts this will be an average year for production.

"Yields were terrible last year, about half of a normal crop," Baker said. "This year I think people got a much better outlook."

Shearer and other farmers said that though the rain has been inconsistent in areas of Roosevelt County, it has been timely for the peanut crop.

His hopes for September weather are to see a few more showers along with plenty of 90-degree weather.

"We don't need any triple-digit weather," Shearer said. "Come the first part of September, if it is 90 degrees with no rain and no wind, that would be ideal."

Levi Polich with Portales Select Peanut Company Inc., is also optimistic about the upcoming harvest.

"Last year was a hard year for the growers," Polich said. "Peanuts are looking very good right now in general."

Polich said last year, growers did not have any moisture and although this year has been dry, the timely rain has been helpful. He predicts the harvest yield will be average to above average.

"From here on out it depends on weather more than anything," Polich said. "We'll need mild temperature and maybe another timely rain. We don't need 100 degree weather."

Baker says overall, this is going to be a good year for peanuts.

"I think people are optimistic right now," Baker said. "The price is really good. Conventional peanuts are slightly over $1,000 a ton."

Baker stresses that September is an important month as well. He says any wet and cold weather will cause poor production.

For now, farmers said they are hoping for the best outcome come harvest time in October.

"No doubt about it, it will be much better than last year," Shearer said.

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