Drought, other commodity price hikes, and higher input costs led to a middling peanut crop in Arkansas during the 2022 growing season.
Arkansas farmers grew about 2,000 fewer acres of peanuts in 2022 compared to 2021. The November forecast from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service estimated harvested acres at 32,000 acres in the state.
“This was due to good soybean and cotton prices and more acres in Missouri,” Travis Faske, extension pathologist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “Overall, the south-central region had about 7,000 fewer acres than in 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.”
A months-long drought during the early and mid-summer had an impact on the legume crop that was reintroduced in Arkansas a dozen years ago.
“The hot summer conditions suppressed flowering and thus suppressed the pod set for several weeks creating two distinct crops: early and late,” Faske said.
The early-late conundrum created “a challenge for farmers to wait until the late crop matures or harvest the early one and take a hit on yield and grade,” he said. “As expected, grades and yield were lower at the beginning of harvest compared to the end.”
On the other hand, dry conditions during harvest enabled one of the quickest harvests in recent years with nearly 90% of the crop harvested by the end of October,” Faske said.
Another plus to the dry weather was that disease pressure was low from the usual suspects — tomato spotted wilt virus and verticillium wilt, and average for southern and sclerotinia blight.
“Conditions were good for planting with no major issues, maybe some starting too early,” Faske said.
Prices were about the same as 2021, “approximately $500 per ton for the first ton. Those that grow a high oleic acid cultivar get a little more per pound,” he said.
Faske said 2022, was a “slightly better than average year with yield estimates at 5,000 pounds per acre. Of course, there are always those stories of 6,900 pounds per acre field average.”
Peanut acreage in Arkansas has fluctuated over the past decade, dipping from about 18,000 acres in 2012 to about 10,000 acres in 2014, then steadily climbing since. In Arkansas, the leading peanut counties include Mississippi and Craighead counties, with smaller acreages in Greene, Lee, St. Francis and other counties in the Delta region.
Arkansas remains at one of the most extreme ranges to grow peanuts. The crop needs about five months of steady, relatively hot weather to flourish. It can turn cold in the Delta during October and that can be a problem.
High peanut volume states such as Texas, Georgia, and Oklahoma have been hit with disease, drought, and a lack of irrigation in recent years which has forced several peanut companies to look for other states to grow the crop.