Farmers from across the U.S. came together in Portales Wednesday to share a common interest: Peanuts.
A variety of agricultural representatives gave presentations on the nation's peanut productivity, marketing, livelihood and more at the 2012 New Mexico Peanut Growers Association's annual meeting. Here are some of the highlights of what the speakers had to say:
Jeff Witte, New Mexico Department of Agriculture secretary of agriculture:
• "When you get to New Mexico, you find a lot green and red chile and peanuts, but really, we're one of the most diverse state's in the nation. You go down to Las Cruces and we've got lettuce and spinach and the salad stuff covered. We have the whole plate."
• Witte said in 1945, there was 6,075 acres of peanut crops in New Mexico, which produced 6.3 million pounds of products for $501,000.
He said in 2010, New Mexico peanut crops equaled 10,000 acres and produced 32 million pounds of products for $13.2 million.
• Witte said the New Mexico Department of Agriculture operating out of New Mexico State University has been beneficial to agricultural research, including that of peanuts.
"We've got a lot of challenges ahead of us. My job would be so much easier if it would rain."
Ryan Lepicier, vice president for marketing and communications for the New Mexico National Peanut Board (speaking on behalf of NMNPB delegate Laura Robbins):
• Lepicier said college dining is a multi-billion dollar industry, so their board has made an effort to visit university campuses to show college chefs how they can utilize more peanuts in their menu items.
• The peanut board has also created holiday peanut gifts through Hampton Farms and other brands, which are sold at Wal-Mart at Christmas time.
• They have worked with name brands, such as Hamburger Helper and General Mills, to promote peanut products, along with working alongside national restaurant chains, such as TGI Fridays and Ruby Tuesdays.
• Lepicier said the peanut board has built their national advertising on three health pillars, which are peanuts have more than 30 vitamins and nutrients, they have more energy-boosting protein than any other nut and they have more antioxidants than broccoli, carrots and green tea.
• He said peanut butter sales are up due to a poor economy and its Peanut Butter for Breakfast advertising campaign.
Robbie Blount, Western Peanut Growers Association executive director of Seminole, Texas:
• Blount said the United Peanut Growers Alliance includes New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virgina.
She said the association works to improve peanut-related issues, such getting better crop insurance for peanut farmers.
She said farmers currently receive $600 per peanut crop in insurance.
Naveen Puppala, NMSU Research Station representative:
• Puppala said the station has been researching the high oleic acid traits, drought tolerance and disease resistance of peanut crops.
The station has also bred different types of peanut crops together.
• He said they have tested 25 varieties of peanuts in Curry and Roosevelt counties.
Soum Sanogo, NMSU plant pathologist:
• Sanogo said he has been researching the affects of schlerotia, a peanut plant disease.
Symptoms of the disease include the wilting and shredding of the plant's stems.
The disease can be caused by excess moisture and cool temperatures.
• Sanogo said he is also researching stem and leaflet inoculation methods by looking at the disease incident, the number of days until the plant collapses after obtaining the disease and the leaflet area affected by the disease.
He said the pigmentation of a plant (whether it is light or dark colored) can play a role in the effectiveness of the disease with darker pigmented plants being more susceptible.